Cornell thrusts $60 million at faculty diversity plan

  • Cornell is funneling $60 million into diversity initiatives like hiring 60 faculty members “who diversify their departments” over a five-year period.
  • Cornell government student Dylan Young said that while he supports increased diversity, he doesn't know why the university needs $60 million just to change its hiring practice.
  • An Open Secrets investigation revealed that Cornell's diversity committee has exclusively donated to liberal organizations and politicians.

Cornell University announced in late September that it will be throwing $60 million toward acquiring and maintaining a more diverse faculty. 

The Ivy League school’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff, announced the new expense in a late September news release, saying that the initiative would cost $60 million over a five-year timespan. A portion of the funds will go towards hiring 60 faculty members “who diversify their departments” over the five-year period.

“It’s a very, very liberal campus....I have friends that say, ‘I know if I say the wrong thing I’ll get a bad grade, I wanna agree with the professor.'"   

Kotlikoff also committed to funding a new “Presidential Faculty Fellows” program, meant to “augment” the university’s recruitment pool by “identifying the most talented young scholars through faculty searches, providing them with fellowships and supporting them during completion of their training prior to assuming their appointments at Cornell.”

Cornell’s existing Presidential Postdoctoral Program will also be expanded to include fellowships given to individuals who are “underrepresented in their academic fields.”

Kotlikoff emphasized not only support for diverse hires but also retention of diverse faculty, something he says will be a major focus for the university during the 2018-2019 academic year.  

[RELATED: Cornell considering ‘enhanced’ punishments for ‘bias’ incidents]

Cornell freshman Michael Beshara told Campus Reform that he has heard rumors that faculty “from diverse backgrounds tend to come through for a brief moment and then leave, never really looking at Cornell as a landing spot,” adding that this can probably be attributed to the fact that Ithaca is a small town in upstate New York, and that “Cornell is a good brand name to have on [your resume] to go elsewhere with similar or better prestige in a bigger city.”  

"While I support more diversity, I don't see how or why it requires $60 million to achieve,” Cornell government student Dylan Young told Campus Reform. “The university can just perform the practice in its hiring.”

Meanwhile, Cornell junior Vincenzo Guido told Campus Reform that he hopes this new initiative will include efforts to employ individuals from “a wide range of ideological and political perspectives.”

“It is my hope that Cornell will formulate new ways to attract and retain scholars and experts, especially in the liberal arts, who feel comfortable expressing their ideological dispositions without fear of jeopardizing prospects for tenure or other perks on the sole basis of their political identity,” he explained.

[RELATED: Cornell tells students if they are ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’]

Cornell is “promulgating a false pretense of diversity, where there is little to no diversity of opinion in the faculty here,” Sam Wolf,  a liberal arts student, said.

“So, I think its a valid initiative if they were to address the real problem that they aren't really giving people the liberal education they claim to,” he continued.  “Ideological singularity in the classroom is a huge problem, as students could go through a liberal arts education without any exposure to certain ideas that they likely never grew up hearing, but might be essential to get exposed to in order to come out with a well-rounded education.”

Another Cornell student, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, told Campus Reform that while he supports the goal of diversity, a word which he noted is contained in the school’s founding motto, he believes there should be more dissenting voices on campus.

“There’s definitely a bias,” he said. “It’s a very, very liberal campus, as are the rest of the Ivies.”

“I have friends that say, ‘I know if I say the wrong thing I’ll get a bad grade, I wanna agree with the professor,’ stuff like that,” the student told Campus Reform.

[RELATED: Cornell embraces racial diversity, eschews ideological diversity]

The provost made the announcement after receiving recommendations from Cornell’s diversity committee, whose members have made political donations explicitly to liberal organizations and politicians, according to

Committee members of the Provost’s Task Force for Diversity at Cornell University assembled during summer 2018 to draft a report, highlighting their plans to advance efforts to diversify their faculty and staff. In the report, they stress the importance of diversity of gender and race.

Committee members donated a combined $1,868 to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, a combined $1,121 to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and a combined $750 to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 senatorial campaign. They did not donate any money to Republican candidates or conservative causes.

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan and @knelson1776 

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