October 15, 2015

Garrett Continues Administrative Shake-Up; Arts and Sciences Adds Education Innovation Director

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Corrections appended 

After several months ripe with personnel fluctuations, the University has announced that it will restructure the presidential leadership team to include an executive vice president and chief financial officer, pending board of trustee approval of the position, according to a University press release.

Garrett has appointed Joanne DeStefano, the current vice president for finance and chief financial officer, to fill the new position.

The new position is intended to oversee all of Cornell’s risk-related units in efforts to maximize operational efficiencies, Garrett said in a University statement.

In her new position, DeStefano will “continue oversight of Financial Affairs, the Investment Office and the Audit Office, and will share oversight with Provost Michael Kotlikoff of Information Technologies and Budget and Planning,” in keeping with her previous duties, according to the release. She will also take on oversight of Infrastructure, Properties and Planning, Risk Management and Insurance, Emergency Management/Business Continuity, Environmental Health and Safety and the Cornell University Police Department.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Joanne’s substantial talents — including her financial acumen and deep understanding of the University — to draw upon as we look to the opportunities and challenges ahead,” Garrett said in a statement.

Almost immediately after this academic year began, Garrett announced that she would begin her tenure by restructuring the Cornell administration to be more efficient. She has already made significant changes to Day Hall’s ranks and has put pressure on administrative units to streamline expenditures and cut inefficiencies.

Urging University provosts, college deans and vice presidents to cut costs and simplify processes in an Aug. 20 memo, Garrett wrote, “I am therefore asking each of you to assess processes and procedures within your jurisdiction or throughout the University, and work to eliminate unnecessary regulation, duplicative structures or burdensome paperwork where the goals of the process can be met more efficiently.”

‘A Real Leader in Educational Excellence’

In addition, Prof. Peter Lepage, physics, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will become the college’s first director of education innovation. In his new position, Lepage plans to encourage professors to engage in active learning techniques and “help departments scale up from the individual efforts of professors who have initiated new models of teaching to a department-wide curriculum of engaged learning,” he said in a University release.

Lepage said that the use of i-Clicker questions, which allow professors to see an entire class’s answers to a question in real time, and expanded reliance on discussion sessions following lectures are both good examples of engaged learning.

“Peter is a real leader in educational excellence both within the college and nationally. He helped to initiate the Active Learning Initiative, and we are fortunate that he will be at the helm of the college’s ongoing efforts to expand our engaged learning strategies,” said Gretchen Ritter, arts and sciences dean, in a statement. “We have fabulous faculty in the college and we look forward to finding new ways to enhance their success as educators both inside and outside the classroom.”

Lepage emphasized that these new models will provide a different way to utilize professors’ lectures.

“Active learning models use short lectures in strategic ways, teaching according to how people learn most effectively,” he said. “Studies show that student-student discussion followed by a lecture results in the best learning. Exercising your knowledge by talking to someone is hugely beneficial in cementing knowledge.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that the appointment of Peter Lepage as the College of Arts and Sciences’ first director of education innovation was part of President Elizabeth Garrett’s administrative shake-up. In fact, Lepage’s appointment was made internally within the college. Additionally, the article incorrectly stated that Lepage will be “returning” to the college, when in fact he is already a tenured faculty member.