Cornell University: In State of the Brooks School address, Dean Barry outlines “an opportunity and an obligation”

In her inaugural State of the School address, Dean Colleen L. Barry of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy announced new initiatives including the launch of a strategic planning process.

Speaking to faculty and staff at the conclusion of the school’s first academic year, Barry said, “We are creating an institution now that will be around in 100 years, and we are doing it at this spectacular Ivy League university. As the inaugural staff and faculty of the School, you will have an outsized impact on the long-term direction and shape of the institution and, critically, on its values. That is the opportunity and the obligation we have been given because we’re here at the founding of the institution.”

Barry said the school has 55 full-time faculty, 33 part-time faculty, three postdoctoral associates and a staff of 91, including many who serve both Brooks and the College of Human Ecology. The School is in the process of recruiting seven additional senior scholars in its first year.

Other immediate goals include building stellar academic programs; prioritizing engagement and impact; centering diversity, equity and inclusion; establishing strong governance and finances; and developing identity and community.

Barry described several of the institutes and centers that are contributors to that identity and community including the Cornell Population Center and the Center for Health Equity. She announced two new additions to the school – the Cornell Program for Infrastructure Policy and the Brooks Tech Policy Institute.

Turning to academic offerings, the school has nearly 700 students in its first year with robust and growing undergraduate, professional masters and doctoral programs. Many of the undergraduates major in policy analysis and management, to become a major in public policy within the next couple years. The professional master’s degree programs in public affairs (MPA) and health administration (MHA) are also evolving with the development of new executive programs geared toward mid-career professionals in partnership with e-Cornell.

Barry highlighted the work of two programs now part of the Brooks School of Public Policy that enrich the school and university and offer unique learning opportunities for students. Cornell in Washington is a popular residential program offering students from across the university a chance to live, learn and intern in the nation’s capital. The Institute of Politics and Global Affairs has given students the opportunity to interact with national and international leaders, most recently New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

While the 2021-2022 classes have ended, this promises to be a busy next few months for the school. On May 28, historic Bailey Hall will be the site of the first graduation ceremony for Brooks students.

Then, shortly after, the School will begin a strategic planning process. Faculty, staff, students and alumni will contribute their views and priorities for the new policy school as part of the process. The School will work on its strategic plan with IDEO, an international design and consulting firm that has assisted other Cornell units including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Lab of Ornithology.

IDEO will help devise a path to accomplishing what Barry described as the school’s overarching goal – becoming a preeminent public policy school that:

Educates policy students at all academic levels to be leaders
Recruits and retains world class policy scholars focused on excellence and impact
Fosters public engagement with policy at local, state, and national levels
Strengthens the social sciences at Cornell
Contributes to creating a safer, healthier, more equitable and more prosperous world
Creates an environment for faculty and staff to find joy in their professional life along the way
Barry said she is confident those goals are attainable because of all that has been accomplished in just a few months by the Brooks School’s stellar faculty and staff: “We have all of the hard work, uncertainty and intensity of a start-up, but also the energy, excitement and creativity.”

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