EDITORIAL | Merger No More, But Serious Questions Remain

Provost Michael Kotlikoff’s decision to move on from the proposed merger between the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology is the right one, and we are glad to see this exercise in academic Frankensteining put to rest. We hope that without the most unpopular proposal casting a shadow over campus, Cornell can constructively debate the other elements of the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences report. The merger idea encountered fierce pushback from faculty and students alike, particularly in the ILR school, and drew comparisons to 2016’s much-maligned creation of the College of Business. Eighty-eight percent of ILR faculty expressed opposition to the proposal in a survey presented to the Faculty Senate, 163 current ILR and Human Ecology students wrote a letter to The Sun objecting to the idea and all four living former deans of the ILR school similarly argued against the change in an open letter to Kotlikoff and President Martha Pollack published in The Sun. Throughout this process, the co-chairs of the committee and other members of the administration reiterated that the proposals laid out in the report were just that — proposals — and that the merger was not even the highest-rated idea.


PARK | The ILR-Human Ecology Merger: Let’s Not

When the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences recommended that the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations combine, I laughed at the thought of HBHS students in Labor Law and ILR students in any science class besides Oceanography. Now that it may become a reality, it’s much less funny. The Student Assembly and former Deans of the ILR School already expressed their opposition to the merger on the grounds of cultural differences and practical difficulties. From the perspective of a sophomore ILR student, I understand the impetus to lump together all the Bachelor of Science majors that have very little to do with science, but I’d like to politely say “no thank you.”

For anyone who has ever asked an ILR student what Industrial and Labor Relations is, and sat through the resultant verbal diarrhea regarding a human perspective to the workforce or regurgitation of quotes from the ILR site, they know that we’re pretty confused here in Ives Hall. We are a collection of high school presidents, debaters, Model U.N. delegates and social justice activists who fell in love with the promise of “one major, endless possibilities” and have absolutely no desire to take pre-med classes.

Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Open letter from ILR deans to administration on ILR-Human Ecology combination proposal

The following letter was sent to President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff yesterday. Dear President Pollack and Provost Kotlikoff:

We are the living former deans of the ILR School, and we write to express our strong opposition to the suggestion to merge the ILR School and the College of Human Ecology presented in the Report from the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences. We have the greatest respect for our colleagues in Human Ecology, but our experience as deans and faculty members of the ILR School persuades us that a merger would have grave consequences for the ILR School and would not advance the social sciences at Cornell. We are not alone in holding that view: a poll of ILR tenured faculty conducted two weeks ago reveals overwhelming opposition to a merger. Furthermore, ILR alumni also overwhelmingly oppose a merger, something we learned in our continuing interactions with those individuals.