Advancing a School

"Transformational" change a hallmark of Katz’s ILR leadership
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cornell Interim Provost Harry Katz, dean of ILR during nine years of unprecedented growth, says his energy “comes from the New York City side.”

“I was born in the Bronx and worked in New York summers as a teen and when I was in college. New York has a particular competitive edge and energy.”

Katz attributes a mellowness he says served him well as dean to growing up in California, where he moved at age five.

At the family dinner table in Saratoga, Calif., where his father oversaw the Paul Masson wine company on behalf of the Seagram Company, Katz learned of the push-pull experienced by a smaller organization reporting to a larger one.

“There are real parallels” between his father’s role and the deanship of a small school within a large university, he said during an interview this winter. “I benefitted from having heard those stories early and often.”

Aside from being an ILR department chair, which doesn’t carry budgetary authority, Katz had never been an administrator when he became dean in 2005. His fundraising experience, he said, was akin to that of “a Cub Scout selling chocolates on the street.”

Yet, Katz’s leadership was “transformational for the school,” said Professor Edward Lawler, a former dean.

Katz increased tenured faculty positions from 49 to 61, raising tens of millions for the school and mastering the budget model adopted by the university after the 2008 global fiscal crisis.

“Harry makes it look so damn easy,” Sam Bacharach, ILR’s McKelvey-Grant Professor, said during remarks at a faculty-staff event in December.

It was a joy to serve as dean of ILR, Katz said in response.

In an interview this winter, Katz said two moments expressed that joy most completely.

One was the speech of Rubén Jose King-Shaw, Jr., '83, at the dedication of King-Shaw Hall.

“Rubén captured the essence of the ILR School in a wonderful and really moving way. I was proud to be a part of that,” Katz said.

Another exceptional moment was the naming of a new faculty chair in honor of Professor Ronald G. Ehrenberg.

“Ron is so committed to the field. He built our Labor Economics Department. He is so active in the school, Cornell and the state. A faculty chair in his name – I was really happy to be a part of that.”

During nine years as dean, Katz said he worked to lead with transparency and clarity. “I was a cheerleader and sometimes a funder … I did what I was asked to do.”

“Some of the longer-term satisfaction is the growth and quality of faculty hiring, internationalizing the student experience, sensing that people feel stable” in their jobs, he said.

“There is a closer working relationship between resident and Extension faculty. Financially, we’re sound. We’ve had great capital campaign success. I feel really good about the amount of money raised.”

“We have high-quality student services. We’ve economized, but protected and never cut services.”

“I wasn’t perfect. I always wondered if I wasn’t sometimes bold enough in directing the school” he said. He pointed to the merging of academic departments at some Cornell colleges; ILR continues to have six departments.

“I felt it too distracting a debate. I never pushed it before the faculty.”

Two rounds of staff layoffs, rather than one, after the 2008 fiscal crisis “was a mistake. You want to do these things and move on,” Katz said.

In addition to collaborations with the new university Economics Department, Cornell Law School, the School of Hotel Administration and university entrepreneurial programs, Katz said he wishes there had been more engagement across the university.

And, “we should have been more at the center of Cornell’s public policy discussions.”

Katz said he transitioned to Day Hall in December feeling especially good about teaching. “I continue to get enormous satisfaction from it … Here, you run into students in the hallway. I’ve enjoyed that.”

“I really like to stay connected to the central purpose of the community, which is to teach and interact with students.”

While serving his first months as interim provost, Katz is taking a break from teaching collective bargaining to undergraduates.

But, he continues to teach in the ILR’s Master of Professional Studies program in New York City, where he and his wife, School of Hotel Administration Senior Lecturer Jan Katz, enjoy cultural events.

Much of their free time is spent with relatives in Los Angeles, training for a bicycling trip in Cambodia later this year and with their children. Ariel Katz HumEc ’07 is an investment banker at JP Morgan Chase in New York and Josh Katz M.S./Ph.D. ’19 studies organizational behavior at ILR.

A sampling of highlights from Katz’s nine years as dean includes:

2005
Katz appointed dean
“The ILR School is an important institution not only within Cornell but also in the wider field of labor and workplace studies,” Katz said in an interview. “We are the pre-eminent institution of its sort in the country and in the world, and it's a great responsibility to make sure this institution stays in the leadership role it has played in the past.”

2006
Semester in Dublin established

ILR’s relationship with the Quinn School of Business at University College Dublin allows undergraduates enhanced understanding of international dimensions of industrial and labor relations through courses taught by leading scholars.

Paris and Ithaca exchange announced
The ILR School and the European School of Management (ESCP-EAP) in Paris announce an exchange agreement that allows students from each institution to attend the other on a tuition-neutral basis while earning course credit.

2007
Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Deanship created

“Harry Katz, dean of the Cornell University ILR School, announces the creation of the Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Deanship of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Kahn’s gift to endow the deanship is the largest from a donor in the school’s history.”

Scheinman Institute established
"Conflict resolution is at the center of ILR's agenda. Through the Scheinman Institute, and because of Marty’s commitment to the school and to the future of the arbitration field, we can grow what we do in this area and help in the settling of workplace conflicts," Katz says.

2008
Gary Fields named first Windmuller chair

Professor Fields became ILR's first John P. Windmuller Chair in International and Comparative Labor. Windmuller, an ILR professor, was renowned for his research in international and comparative labor.

Dolgen Hall naming honors alum and family
"We love Cornell and we're doing this now to say 'thank you.' It's an extraordinary institution that does very special work," said Jonathan Dolgen ’66, a former chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment Group.

New directorships
The Frank B. Miller Director of Student Services and the Harriet Morel Oxman '48 Catherwood Library Directorship were established.

2009
Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professorship created

Beth Florin M.S.’85 established the Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professorship in memory of her late husband, Joseph R. Rich ’80, M.S. ’86. The first recipient is Professor Kevin F. Hallock, director of the Institute for Compensation Studies and professor of economics and of HR studies.

ILR in China
An agreement establishing a partnership between ILR and Tsinghua University was signed in Beijing.

2010
Lois Gray Chair established

The Lois S. Gray Professorship in Industrial Relations and the Social Sciences, and the appointment of Professor Pamela Tolbert as the Gray chair’s first holder, is announced.

Institute for Compensation Studies launched
The interdisciplinary center that researches, teaches and communicates about monetary and non-monetary rewards from work, and how these rewards influence outcomes for individuals, companies, industries and economies.

First Proskauer Rose Professorship recipient named
Assistant Professor Kati Griffith is the first recipient of the Proskauer Rose Employment and Labor Law Assistant Professorship, established for an ILR assistant professor who engages in scholarly work in employment law, labor law, employee benefits, compensation, conflict resolution and/or collective bargaining.

2011
Labor Dynamics Institute established

The institute’s mission is to create and make accessible novel data on the dynamics of the labor markets. We work with research networks and statistical agencies, developing appropriate statistics to inform policy makers, researchers, and simply people seeking knowledge.

Professor Kahn receives Braunstein Family Professorship
The new chair endowed Doug Braunstein '83, chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., is awarded to Professor Lawrence Kahn, a labor economist whose research has centered on wage inequality and gender-based pay gaps.

Renmin partnership formalized
Professor Sarosh Kuruvilla won an award from the Jeffrey S. Lehman Fund to formalize the partnership with Renmin University’s School of Labor and Human Resources.

Cornell university-wide Economics Department formed
The Cornell University Economics Department combined strengths in economics from ILR and other university's colleges and schools into an academic unit.

2012
King-Shaw Hall dedicated

The building housing the ILR Conference Center is renamed King-Shaw Hall in honor of Rubén Jose King-Shaw, Jr., '83, and Patricia G. King-Shaw.

Worker Institute begins
Through research, education and public engagement, the institute works to advance worker rights and collective representation. It brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to tackle issues facing today’s workforce.

Globalization of ILR
International service learning, classroom and internship opportunities continue to expand for ILR students.

2013
PROMISE project supported by ILR

ILR's Employment and Disability Institute is named to support the New York State Governor's Office and the state Office of Mental Health in jointly leading the research and implementation of a $32.5 million federal award to improve education and career outcomes for low-income teens with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income.

Chinese university partners with ILR
ILR begins an academic relationship with Renmin University in China.

2014
Ronald G. Ehrenberg Professorship in Labor Economics established
A new professorship honoring the scholarly contributions and distinguished career of Professor Ronald G. Ehrenberg is endowed.

Higher enrollment, applicant numbers and yield
ILR’s fall semester undergraduate enrollment of 984 students is the largest in the school’s history. There were 1,661 applicants for freshman class, up from 749 applicants for the 2005 first-year class and the admittance rate for the class that started in 2014 was 13.9 percent. The rate was 31.7 percent in 2005. The yield rate – percentage of accepted students who enroll – was 70 percent in 2014, up from 65 percent in 2005.

Cornell diversity leader
Almost 38 percent of the first-year students enrolled for the fall semester fall were under-represented minorities. ILR is the most diverse of Cornell’s seven undergraduate colleges.