Provost’s Review of the Social Sciences at Cornell

In consultation with the president, the SSIC committee chairs, department chairs, deans, and vice provosts, and attending to feedback from the Faculty Senate and stakeholders, on Feb. 27, 2020 Provost Kotlikoff announced plans to form the Cornell School of Public Policy and to create multi-college super-departments for the fields of Psychology and Sociology and to expand the existing super-department for the field of Economics.

The Cornell School of Public Policy will be a separate entity with a dean reporting to the provost. The Cornell School of Public Policy will initially comprise faculty of the Department of Policy Analysis & Management, as well as policy faculty from the Government Department, but its membership is likely to extend beyond the current parameters of those departments. Importantly, the College of Human Ecology will continue to function as an independent college.  Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) and policy-oriented Government faculty, as well as appropriate undergraduate and graduate academic programs, will be associated with the school as well as their colleges, and it will seek to develop new majors and areas of study in conjunction with other units on campus.  The current Master of Public Administration, along with a newly envisioned Master of Public Policy, will be directly administered by the school, as the programs will constitute a significant component of the school’s reputation and resources.

For more read, the provost’s memo to Cornell faculty and the Cornell Chronicle article about these investments in the social sciences.



January 2020 Update

On Jan. 16, 2020, the Social Sciences Implementation Committee submitted its final report of recommendations (PDF) for advancing public policy and the social sciences at Cornell. The Implementation Committee was formed after a two-year process whereby multiple faculty-led committees identified proposals for increasing the excellence and visibility of the social sciences at Cornell. On the basis of these earlier committee reports and faculty feedback, in spring 2019 President Pollack and Provost Kotlikoff charged the Implementation Committee with making recommendations for a new public policy entity and the creation of super-departments in economics, psychology and sociology.

In the coming weeks, university and college leadership will examine the report, followed by a decision later in the semester on which recommendations to pursue. Throughout the process, the provost’s commitment will be to strengthen public policy at Cornell, while continuing to support other less policy-focused faculty within the College of Human Ecology. Cornell community members may provide feedback on the final report by writing to

For more, read the provost’s message to the Cornell community and the Cornell Chronicle article about the final report.


December 2019 Update

In fall 2019, the Social Sciences Implementation Committee co-chairs hosted nearly 20 listening sessions with faculty, staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders across campus. Stakeholders provided input and ideas for the committee to consider for its final report on structures for a potential new policy structure at Cornell. The committee’s final report will be issued next semester.


November 2019 Update

The Social Sciences Implementation Committee has issued its interim report, Considering School and College Structures for Public Policy at Cornell (PDF). The document examines possibilities for two options for structuring a new policy entity at Cornell, as outlined in the committee’s September 2019 update: 1) Further strengthening and focusing the College of Human Ecology as a college focused on public policy with affiliations to policy faculty across campus; or 2) Creating a cross-college policy school situated between the College of Human Ecology and the College of Arts and Sciences.

University leaders are engaged in efforts designed to strengthen Cornell’s research, education and outreach in the area of public policy. Due to the concentration of public policy faculty and educational programs in the College of Human Ecology, any new programs in this area will involve the College. As this review moves forward, the provost has affirmed the university’s intent is to strengthen public policy at Cornell, while continuing to support and invest in other less policy-focused faculty within the College of Human Ecology.


September 2019 Update

The co-chairs of the implementation committee sent this update on Sept. 23, 3019 regarding next steps, including the draft vision of a public policy entity at Cornell.


July 2019 Update

The co-chairs of the implementation committee Professors Ferguson and Wildeman and Deputy Provost John Siliciano sent out the following updates:

The implementation committee will meet biweekly throughout the summer and fall beginning on May 29, 2019. The committee members are:

  • Anthony Burrow: Human Development (CHE)
  • Sahara Byrne: Communication (CALS)
  • Ben Cornwell: Sociology (CAS)
  • Melissa Ferguson (Co-Chair): Psychology (CAS)
  • Maria Fitzpatrick: Policy Analysis and Management (CHE)
  • Shannon Gleeson: Labor Relations, Law, & History (ILR)
  • David Easley: Economics and Information Science (CAS)
  • Tom Pepinsky: Government (CAS)
  • John Siliciano (Co-Chair): Deputy Provost
  • Laura Tach: Policy Analysis and Management (CHE)
  • Christopher Wildeman (Co-Chair): Policy Analysis and Management (CHE)


March 2019 Update

On March 28, 2019, President Pollack and Provost Kotlikoff announced the completion of a multi-year, faculty-led effort to develop a vision for excellence in the social sciences at Cornell.

This effort has identified three core aspirations: one (the Cornell Center for Social Sciences) was announced today. The other two (creating an integrating university entity for public policy, and creating social sciences super-departments) will be the focus of a faculty-led implementation committee that will submit recommendations to the president and provost by the end of the 2019 calendar year.

Summary of Faculty Feedback (PDF)

Cornell creates Center for Social Sciences

Letter to the Faculty



In January 2016, Provost Michael Kotlikoff launched the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences to explore opportunities to position the social sciences at Cornell for excellence in 10 to 15 years. The work of that committee is the basis for the work completed by the Implementation Committee, outlined above.

For more information, see the Social Sciences Review Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


Prior Reports

All newly created PDFs on this website are accessible, for an accommodation for these archival PDFs please contact