April 6, 2016

Provost Kotlikoff Announces Chair of Cornell Presidential Search Committee

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The Cornell University Assembly discussed the appointment of President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, information on potential labor abuses at Cornell’s Weill Medical campus in Qatar and proposed changes to the Campus Code of Conduct at its meeting Tuesday.

Provost and Acting President Michael Kotlikoff anticipated that President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings’ transition will be “very easy and comfortable.”

“He’s had a lot of experience, obviously, over his two terms as President with issues like transitions happening now, in the past,” Kotlikoff said.

He added that Jan Rock, a member of The Board of Trustees, will be the new chair of the presidential search committee and that the committee will include members from different sections of the Cornell community.

“The search committee will be composed in a broad way as the previous search committee was, so it will include a member of faculty, at least one or two associate members of the student body and members of staff as well,” Kotlikoff said.

The committee’s first job will be to visit campuses and interview a variety potential candidates, according to Kotlikoff.

Kotlikoff also said the president’s office has received multiple interrogations about Qatar labor issues, following a recent resolution requesting the University to provide specific information on labor conditions at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar.

The University’s most recent response to the assembly is a focused effort to provide all possible data, according to Kotlikoff.

“Understand that there are certain confidential things that we won’t be able to provide, but those things deemed non-confidential, like summary information about employees, employee conditions of employment and the processes that are used to employ individuals, we will provide to the assembly,” Kotlikoff said.

Kotlikoff said he does not have all the information on labor practices in Qatar currently, but the University intends to provide this data soon.

“I’m sure it will not satisfy all the requests for data, but we will give the assembly what we are able to give,” he said.

The U.A. tabled a resolution proposing changes to the Campus Code of Conduct — which would alter mainly how the University hanldes temporary suspensions and the no-contact directive — an order that prohibits one person from contacting another person after menacing activity.

Gabriel Kaufman ’18, chair of the U.A. codes and judicial committee, explained that the proposed change to the no-contact directive would create a symmetry in how the directive works, making it binding upon all parties.

“The judicial administrator’s office could not issue a no-contact directive on one member of let’s say a fight that wouldn’t bind on the other member, which would allow the member who issued the no-contact directive to approach the member who was and get them in trouble,” Kaufman explained.

Alexander Thomson ’13, executive vice chair of the U.A., expressed concern about a mutual no-contact directive, calling it “potentially harmful.”
“There must be a clear direction of which party bears the responsibility of maintaining no contact,” Thomson said. “If neither party bears any responsibility for maintaining no-contact the potential abuser is left with the same upper hand that they had going into the process.”

Kaufman also explained that the code change to the temporary suspension clarifies that the process applies to both individuals and organizations and that the last measure of the resolution would create a mechanism for review in terms of temporary suspension.

“The final measure would be an appeals process,” he said. “The code change would create an appeals process for no-contact directive and for temporary suspensions which would require them to be continuously review by a hearing board, to make sure that we don’t have people who get temporarily suspended indefinitely.”