Podcast lovers need look no further: In late October, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations dean, Alex Colvin, launched a podcast titled “WORK! Exploring the Future of Work, Labor and Employment.” In each episode, Colvin hosts a discussion with a guest on interesting topics relating to labor.
Five panelists — one each from the departments of biological engineering, industrial labor relations, neuroscience, history and philosophy — grappled with this question as they attempted to convince the Klarman Hall audience that their respective fields of study mattered most and should be preserved.
In a Monday night event immediately preceding former Walker’s talk at Cornell, Prof. Lee Adler, labor relations, dissected how — in just eight years — one leader’s tenure turned a once hotbed for union activism into a state synonymous with organized labor’s most high-profile, decisive defeats.
Ezra Cornell, the wealthy telegraph magnate who would co-found our uniquely egalitarian university in the aftermath of the Civil War, was convinced that 19th-century society was bound to undergo a dramatic transformation, a “revolution by which the downtrodden millions will be elevated to their equal and just rights, and each led to procure and enjoy … [the] happiness that all men and women are entitled to as the fruits of their labor.”
Cornell was determined to use his fortune to further this inevitable revolution, so Cornell University, the crown jewel of his philanthropic efforts, would be governed by bold populist principles. Unlike the other great universities of the East, which were defined by their colonial origins and aristocratic traditions, Cornell University would provide an elite education to students who were anything but elite: “downtrodden” young men and women of all faiths who would not otherwise set foot in an ivory tower. Though Cornell’s ethos of service to the common man and woman had great influence on the other educational reformers of his era, including Leland and Jane Stanford (whose namesake university was once referred to as the “Cornell of the West”), America’s prominent private institutions of higher learning have lost the trust of many of the ordinary Americans they exist — or should exist — to serve. With the prominence of exorbitant and ever-rising tuition rates, recent admissions fraud scandals and campus struggles with racism and bigotry, it’s hard to escape the sense that schools like Cornell are set up to cater to ruling elites at the expense of those who lack financial and social capital. This crisis of trust is especially dangerous in an era when faith in American institutions is rapidly eroding, truth is considered malleable and “alternative facts” reign.
As I was frantically attempting (note the word attempt) to balance prelims, quizzes, interviews and job searches over the weekend, I took a moment to open up the fortune cookie that’s been lying around on my desk, hoping it might provide some insight to the essay I had been struggling to finish. The slip of paper read the following: “Before you wonder ‘Am I doing things right,’ ask ‘Am I doing the right things?’” Well, no offense to fortune cookie producer Wonton Food Inc., but I think that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life, only with little success at actually finding what the “right things” are. I’ve always been an advocate for exploration — traveling to new places, absorbing new foods and keeping various career options open. For the longest time, I’ve been told by teachers, elders, career counselors and upperclassmen that the journey to find yourself is essential to discovering the right career path. While such guidance has helped me become a more flexible and open person, it hasn’t helped to answer the question of what I’m most enthusiastic about and where I find myself to be the right fit.
The United Auto Workers union made headlines last Monday when it announced a nationwide strike — for the first time in 12 years — against General Motors, demanding better wages and a bigger share in the company’s multi-billion dollar profits.
From astrophysics to industrial and labor relations, from a “crappy apartment” in Collegetown to the dean’s office in Ives Hall, Alexander Colvin Ph.D. ’99 has plans to reinvigorate the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Indonesian garment workers Linda Ratnasari and Siti Chasanah, who were scheduled to speak at Cornell about their lives as sweatshop laborers on March 20, were unable to make it to the event due to the rejection of their visa applications by the State Department.
Following in the footsteps of Cornell Tech, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations opened on Feb. 28 a new New York City outpost at an opening ceremony headlined by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-N.Y.).
Five months after Kevin Hallock stepped down from the helm of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations to lead the newly formed SC Johnson College of Business, the nation’s premier institution of labor education and research continues in its search for a new dean. While the search committee has voiced desire for student input, we fear the opinions of those most impacted by the management of this program will not be made a central concern. In fact, the Provost has made no commitments to transparency in this process, and has indicated to faculty members that he may be departing from well-established norms by not giving faculty and students the ability to comment on candidates being considered for the position. The Provost would require the select faculty members who meet the finalists to sign confidentiality agreements, agreeing to refrain from discussing potential candidates with their colleagues. The fact that the previous dean was so easily able to transition to leading an institution of management is indicative of the corporate bias of the search process to date.