In its two decades of existence, the website RateMyProfessor.com has become notorious on college campuses. While some students turn to the review site for informal evaluations of their prospective professors, many criticize the site as unfairly biased and unrepresentative.
Cornell University has followed up its two audits by opening yet another investigation into Brian Wansink, a former Cornell professor and food marketing researcher, Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced in a letter on Monday.
Provost Michael Kotlikoff’s decision to move on from the proposed merger between the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology is the right one, and we are glad to see this exercise in academic Frankensteining put to rest. We hope that without the most unpopular proposal casting a shadow over campus, Cornell can constructively debate the other elements of the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences report. The merger idea encountered fierce pushback from faculty and students alike, particularly in the ILR school, and drew comparisons to 2016’s much-maligned creation of the College of Business. Eighty-eight percent of ILR faculty expressed opposition to the proposal in a survey presented to the Faculty Senate, 163 current ILR and Human Ecology students wrote a letter to The Sun objecting to the idea and all four living former deans of the ILR school similarly argued against the change in an open letter to Kotlikoff and President Martha Pollack published in The Sun. Throughout this process, the co-chairs of the committee and other members of the administration reiterated that the proposals laid out in the report were just that — proposals — and that the merger was not even the highest-rated idea.
Michael I. Kotlikoff announced on Tuesday that he is setting aside the proposal to merge the ILR school with the human ecology college along with the proposal to create a new College of Social Sciences due to a lack of support and enthusiasm for the ideas.
For two years, all Cornell could talk about was the College of Business. So why is the administration so tight-lipped following the sudden departure of Soumitra Dutta, the college’s dean, on Tuesday? Dutta, who had served as the dean and public face of the controversial SC Johnson College of Business since its launch in 2016, resigned yesterday without explanation. A University spokesman declined to comment because Cornell “does not comment on private personnel matters,” and in an email to colleagues, Joe Lyons ’98, executive director of leadership gifts, communications and donor engagement, said that “no further comment will be coming.”
The college Dutta led is integral to the University’s plan for the 21st century, and Cornell’s lack of transparency is unacceptable. Endowed by the single largest donation to Cornell’s Ithaca campus, housed in the $25-million state-of-the-art Breazzano Family Center, built to catapult the Johnson name into the ranks of Wharton, Sloan, Kellogg and Haas — and yet, not a whisper about why its founding dean has made such an unceremonious exit.
The University announced last week that Prof. Laura Brown, English, will become the next Provost for Undergraduate Education in July. The announcement came almost four months after Brown’s predecessor, Michelle Moody-Adams, accepted the position as Dean of Columbia College.
Brown is currently the John Wendell Anderson Professor of English. Throughout her 28 years at Cornell, she has served as a director of the graduate program and chaired the English department from 2002 to 2005. She was also involved in the Provost’s Committee on the Status of Women about 20 years ago and recently served on the Faculty Senate.