Leadership Perspectives

Deans discuss ILR’s past, present, future
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ILR’s future within Cornell and across the globe was discussed at “A Dean’s Perspective” June 5 as part of Reunion.

“The challenge for us in the next 10 years is foremost going to be how we at the ILR School and across Cornell connect with Cornell Tech. Cornell Tech is the most revolutionary thing to happen at Cornell in the past 60 years,” said Cornell Interim Provost Harry Katz, who served as ILR dean for nine years.

The tech campus should be “a branch part of Cornell in which undergraduates and graduates at ILR can connect to experiences and education to complement the Ithaca experience.”

“I think there’s enormous opportunity, but we’ve only just begun to think about” the tech campus-ILR connection, Katz said.

The panel in King-Shaw Hall, attended by more than 70 alums and staff, also featured former deans Edward Lawler, the Martin P. Catherwood Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, and David Lipsky, the Anne Evans Estabrook Professor of Dispute Resolution and director of the Scheinman Institute.

Dean Kevin Hallock, the Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean and Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professor of Economics and Human Resource Studies, moderated the discussion.

In addition to serving a total of 26 years in the dean role, his three predecessors remain on the faculty, Hallock said. “That doesn’t happen. Anywhere.”   

ILR’s mix of theory and practice, increasing international focus, the roles alums play in facilitating student experiences, ILR Extension, faculty ideology, distance learning, ILR’s role in founding eCornell and other subjects were covered.

Lawler said the dynamic tension between labor and management gives the school “a very special character” and urged stronger ILR collaboration across campus units.

“There are a lot of good individual connections between faculty and ILR and other faculty and colleges, but if we want to keep the social science and disciplinary foundation of the school strong along with the practical side, we do need to have stronger institutional ties … to the rest of the university.”

Lipsky said he arrived at ILR in 1958 as a transfer student, joined the faculty in 1969 and became dean in 1988. ILR is more tuned in to workplace realities than ever, he said.
When ILR opened in 1945, skeptics thought it would be impossible to teach both labor and management proponents in the same place at the same time, he said.

“Seventy years later … we’ve been successful. It’s an experiment that worked,” Lipsky said.

To view the deans’ panel, go to http://ilr.webcast.video.cornell.edu/Mediasite/Play/b9878d8c1af8442d81628a8f304dfc2d1d.