President Skorton issues statement on diversity goals

Cornell University is a community of diverse people, respectful and appreciative of difference. A commitment to diversity, central to the university's founding vision, remains a core value of Cornell. The increased diversity of our university community is an imperative in our strategic plan, a key priority of university leadership, and, I believe, a foundation for our continued strength and success.

As a world-class research university, Cornell recognizes that learning, discovery, creativity, and the innovative dissemination and application of knowledge benefit tremendously from the full participation of individuals with diverse points of view, coming from varied life experiences. To be on the cutting edge in all aspects of our mission, we must boldly pursue an inclusive academic and work environment.

Provosts Kent Fuchs and Laurie Glimcher and I are committed, between now and 2015, to:

  • increase the diversity of our faculty, academic professionals and administrative staff through new hires and enhanced engagement and retention efforts
  • strengthen efforts to attract, educate, develop and graduate an excellent and diverse body of students
  • promote intercultural dialogue and community-building across difference
  • enhance the accessibility of our campuses for individuals with disabilities and
  • expand the number of returning veterans in our workforce.

The provosts and I are directing the development of explicit institutional diversity goals across all campus populations to which university leaders and their units and departments will be held accountable. This accountability will be part of an annual, university-wide process of goal-setting at both the university and the college/unit levels, and the assessment of progress, which the provosts and I will oversee, will be measured by public, organized and comparative tracking data.

To help shape our work and move it forward, a team of diversity professionals with expertise in faculty, staff, and student diversity and inclusion will coordinate efforts across the campuses and provide assistance to colleges and units in meeting diversity goals. Together with the provosts and a number of vice provosts and vice presidents, they form a new University Diversity Council (UDC), charged with:

  • building university-wide capacity to address the needs of an increasingly diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students, postdoctoral associates, faculty and staff
  • providing an opportunity for broad, university-wide participation in the diversity agenda
  • setting long- and short-term institutional diversity and inclusion goals, priorities and policies
  • creating, with input from the university community, appropriate metrics and benchmarks for assessing progress as well as reporting on them and
  • serving as a resource for the Cornell community as we develop strategies and actions to advance the university's diversity agenda.

The university's deans and vice presidents, who have line responsibilities for staff, faculty and student diversity and inclusion, will continue to have the key responsibility for identifying and taking direct actions to meet the agreed-upon goals in support of the university's diversity agenda, and their progress will be tracked and assessed. College deans, vice presidents, chairs and supervisors will have the opportunity to consult with the diversity professionals as they pursue their diversity initiatives.

Our annual report on diversity will highlight best practices across the campuses and document progress made in achieving our diversity goals.

We welcome all members of the Cornell community to offer input on the university's diversity plans at

Collectively, as a university community, we must value diversity and inclusion and reject both active and passive discrimination. Progress toward achieving our goals will require not only committed work by university leadership, but also your active participation. Our future strength requires it.

David J. Skorton