Jabin Botsford / The New York Times

Former Congressman Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) will direct Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.

February 5, 2019

Former Congressman Steve Israel to Head New Institute of Politics and Global Affairs

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Beltway politics are soon set to migrate northwards as Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs readies to open on Mar. 1.

Set to be directed by former Congressman Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the new center plans to link domestic and global political organizations. This includes policy think tanks, political leaders, businesses and individuals within the academic world, Provost Michael Kotlikoff told the Cornell Chronicle, a University-run publication.

Israel previously represented two Long Island-based congressional districts from 2001 to 2017, according to his website. Following his time in politics, he worked as a commentator for MSNBC and served as the inaugural chair for Long Island University’s Global Institute.

“One of the reasons I believe that an institute of politics is valuable in New York is because New York has become an epicenter of intense political activity,” Israel said in an interview with City and State New York.

While New York has long had a reputation for being a “one party” state, Israel highlighted New York’s “fabric of different outlooks and dispositions” as a reason for the state being a prime location for an organization charged with studying and showcasing politics.

“I served as a congressman for 16 years representing a quintessential middle-class community that could as easily vote for a Democrat as a Republican … it’s mostly pockets of purple,” Israel added.

The institute will bridge Cornell’s Ithaca, Washington, D.C. and New York City campuses in an effort to better connect students and faculty to leaders in the political field, mainly by offering internships, symposiums, and a richer variety of lecturers from the world of government, according to the University. This concept is a part of Martha Pollack’s larger “One Cornell” vision, which aims to work to bring campuses and potential employers closer together.

The Ithaca campus will be home to a faculty director, who will be in charge of programming, including guest speakers and a faculty and student fellows program. The speakers will come from a variety of disciplinary fields and speak on issues including policy, new technologies and journalism, according to The Chronicle.

Israel will serve as a leader and liaison between Cornell’s and Long Island University’s  institutes to co-sponsor certain events. The former congressman will also teach at least one class a semester on the Ithaca campus as a part of the new program.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Cornell family,” Israel said in a university press release. “Political dynamics in the United States and around the world have become volatile and complex, and my goal is to create a platform for deep and meaningful experiences.”