New Leadership

DeVault named academic director of Worker Institute
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Professor Ileen DeVault, a labor historian, has been named academic director of ILR’s Worker Institute.

The Worker Institute generates innovative thinking and bold solutions to problems related to work, economy and society in a changing world. The institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to confront growing economic and social inequalities, in the interests of working people and their families.

Its scope of work extends from issues of inequality at the local, state, national and international levels, and from the traditional labor movement, to low-wage, immigrant and precarious workers who often aren’t represented by unions.

DeVault has served on The Worker Institute’s executive committee since 2012 and is co-chair of the Equity at Work initiative. She has chaired the Union Days planning committee and is a past chair of ILR’s Labor Relations, Law and History Department.

She follows Professor Lowell Turner, who was academic director for five years.

In addition to research and teaching, Turner plans to continue his work on the institute’s immigrant workers website, and a five-country study of young workers and the labor movement.

DeVault teaches about labor and working class history. Currently, she is researching the impact of workers’ family status on their workplace experiences between 1880 and 1930 and in the present day. She looks at the impact of family and community on workers.

As part of her exploration, she is working on a book manuscript illustrating the complex ways that capital and workers came together in the Pacific Northwest’s logging industry.

“I am interested in communicating to students the ways in which people’s lives in the past were both the same as and different from our lives today,” DeVault has said.

“Through my affiliation with the institute, I have helped develop and run the course, ‘The Gendered Workplace,’ which examines the many ways in which gender affects workplace experiences.”

DeVault is the author of the books “Sons and Daughters of Labor” and “United Apart: Gender and the Rise of Craft Unionism.”

She received the Cornell Class of 2017 Faculty Award and ILR’s 2010 MacIntyre Award for Exemplary Teaching, among other honors.

DeVault has a doctorate in history from Yale University, a master’s degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh and her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She has taught at Cornell since 1986.

DeVault will work on the Institute’s leadership team alongside extension colleagues Lara Skinner and Jeff Grabelsky.