Kelly Connison, director of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, and key CWRC supporters were notified yesterday evening that the University would fund the CWRC director’s position beginning in the fiscal year 2003. The funding will come from the budget that supports the Dean of Students office.
Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services phoned Connison to inform her of the decision.
“It was probably the best scenario I could have hoped for,” Connison said, following a tense meeting of the CWRC advisory board that passed without word of the University’s decision.
“[Now] I can start focusing more on programming and the needs students have on campus,” Connison said. “I can see things long-term now.”
Since 1998 the CWRC director’s salary has been allocated by the Student Assembly (S.A.) as part of the Student Activities Fee (SAF). The S.A. Appropriations Committee recommended last month that the University assume responsibility for the director’s salary.
“Everything here looks like what students and student groups requested from the administration,” said S.A. President Uzo Asonye ’02.
Many in the coalition of CWRC supporters — including more than 1,500 people who signed cards to urge the University to take action on behalf of the CWRC director — were pleased with the initial decision. Still, several details of the arrangement have yet to be worked out.
Just two weeks ago President Hunter R. Rawlings III announced a University-wide hiring freeze that is part of a broad workforce planning effort. In judging the CWRC request, the administration had to consider whether to rule out the offer because of the constraints recently placed on new staff hiring.
“We chose not to do that, but it may be that we have to use some of [Connison’s] time and talents beyond the Women’s Resource Center,” Murphy said.
The suspension of non-student and non-academic staff hiring is scheduled to conclude on June 30, 2002, which coincides with date that S.A. funding for the CWRC director’s position is also set to expire.
“I’m pleased that the University could respond to this request,” said Kent Hubbell ’69, dean of students.
“The Women’s Resource Center is the number one priority,” he said. “We’re just glad that Kelly can be there to direct the Women’s Resource Center.”
Hubbell assured that the Dean of Students office, while undergoing the workforce planning effort, has no plans to cut back on other staff positions because of the new addition. As of yet, no clear cut plans exist to address Connison’s request for professional development and work study funding for the CWRC.
Those requests will be taken up by the Dean of Students office along with that office’s other budget issues for 2002-03, Murphy said.
In addition, the administration will undergo a process to facilitate Connison’s transition into the Dean of Student’s office. Connison was initially recruited to Cornell by members of the Women’s Studies Program and the CWRC advisory board.
“We have to revisit a lot of issues that have been taken up by that group over the past year or two, [and] we’re open to making it as effective as possible,” Hubbell said.
Prof. Sandra Bem, psychology and director of the Women’s Studies Program, participated in selecting the CWRC director.
“From where I sit, the focus has mainly been on funding,” Bem said. “The Women’s Resource Center has functioned very well under the current funding [structure].”
Bem noted that she would wonder how the changes in Connison’s job as part of the Dean of Students office will affect the CWRC, but overall she was pleased with the decision.
“I think the students should be really proud of the work they have done to make this happen,” she said.
The campaign to support the CWRC achieved its crowning success yesterday, but supporters have already begun planning its next steps.
“I think that the S.A. will continue to watch the developments. If we see anything that detracts [Connison’s] attention from the Center, then we will definitely call [the administration] out on it,” Asonye said.
Asonye said that the Assembly will look to increase the CWRC’s program budget at its next meeting on Thursday. The CWRC will request either $1 or $1.25 from the Student Activities Fee.
Archived article by Matthew Hirsch