Jennifer Majka, assistant dean of Alice Cook House, recently announced her departure from the West Campus community to pursue her “passion for diversity and inclusion work in higher education” with a joint appointment as the founding Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
The new position was created to address the idea that “principles of social justice such as equity, recognition and inclusion are important to consider as they relate to campus life,” Majka said.
Majka said that the position is particularly important in terms of understanding the causes of injustice and the marginalization of certain groups of people.
“The newly formed Office of Diversity and Inclusion is an integral component to fostering student development and helping to achieve Dyson’s mission of ‘Our business is a better world,’” she said. “I believe the Director of Diversity and Inclusion position provides the unique opportunity to further the university’s goal of creating a more inclusive campus climate.”
In order to achieve the goal of diversity and inclusion, Majka said that she will draw upon her research experience in “transformative” social justice education practices as well as her time as a P.h.D. candidate in education and social justice.
Majka’s believes her future work is crucial to not just maintaining, but bettering the Cornell community as a whole. However, she said it is a bittersweet transition because she will certainly miss the West Campus community.
Majka served the West Campus community for over eight years. She began as the founding assistant dean of Flora Rose House, then assumed the position of assistant dean of Alice Cook House.
“A day in the life entailed many different moving parts and no day was like another, which is why I have enjoyed the assistant dean position for the past eight and a half years, said Majka.”
Barnaby Knoll, former graduate residence manager, will be taking over as the temporary assistant dean of Cook House for the spring semester. Knoll previously served as the residence hall director of Risley from 2011 to 2012 and as the graduate residence manager of Maplewood from 2012 to 2015 before leaving Cornell to start an academic coaching business, according to Majka.
Majka said he “will serve the Cook community well” while Cornell searches for the next permanent Cook House Assistant Dean.
As assistant dean, Majka fostered academically nurturing and inclusive living-learning communities through program initiatives, as well as directed student services and house operations.
While living and working at Rose and Cook House, she connected students and alumni that might not have otherwise met.
“Learning about the impact I may have had on students is heartwarming,” said Majka. “Also, the thoughtful going-away cards and letters I’ve received from students are so touching; I will miss them dearly!”
Nonetheless, Majka is looking forward to the next chapter of her life as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
Driven by students with greater understanding, sharpened leadership skills and deeper empathy, Cornell will truly be — in the words of Majka — “a place where diversity and inclusion, student success and academic excellence are at the center of what we do.”