School of Public Policy

Convened in May 2020, the School of Public Policy Committee was charged by the provost to develop a blueprint and timeline for the creation of the Cornell School of Public Policy (SPP) as outlined in the vision statement (PDF) issued in January 2020 by the Social Sciences Review Implementation Committee. The public policy school committee strived to articulate and install the necessary foundation for the school, including plans for research excellence, educational programming, faculty governance, public engagement, and financial support.

The SPP committee (co-chairs and members shown below) met weekly to develop a blueprint for the school’s operation in advance of the first stage of its launch in summer 2021. Committee members held dozens of meetings — town halls, sessions with interested units and leadership, and individual and small group discussions — with key stakeholders from across the university. The SPP committee also worked with the Economics and Sociology Super-Department Committees, as well as with the Departments of Policy Analysis and Management and of Government, on key areas of development. Consultation with each of these groups was essential to gather ideas for a successful universitywide School of Public Policy and to develop shared expectations and standards across affiliated units.

The following documents summarize the work done by these faculty-led committees pertaining to various key areas of the school’s development. More detailed documents and summaries of the committee’s work have been shared with the leadership and faculty of the SPP to inform future development of the school.


Update (June 2021)

In February 2021, the university launched a search for the founding dean of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, seeking a distinguished academic with extensive experience working in policy and with policymakers. The search concluded in June, with Colleen Barry, a nationally recognized policy scholar and leader in the areas of mental health, addiction and gun violence, named to the position, effective Sept. 15.

Committee Update (November 2020)

Committee members have been laying the groundwork throughout the summer and fall for a world-class school — one that builds upon Cornell’s existing deep well of scholarship in public policy and related disciplines. Drawing on the Social Sciences Implementation Committee’s final report (PDF), the SPP committee has identified six pillars of strength: data science and technology policy, environmental and sustainability policy, health policy, human security, inequality and social policy, and politics and economics of development. The committee is assembling a robust blueprint for undergraduate, doctoral and master’s and professional degree programs, as well as finalizing principles for hiring and appointments in the new school. Its work on the school’s internal governance continues, including discussions with university leadership on a financial and organizational model to best support both the SPP and other units whose faculty will contribute to the school’s teaching, research and outreach missions. Going forward, the committee will also discuss research support for the school, along with structures to encourage increased public engagement activities and other innovative connections.

As this work continues, co-chairs Maria Fitzpatrick and Tom Pepinsky remain committed to engaging with the Cornell community on collaborative opportunities among the SPP and other academic units with natural links to public policy, leading to exciting possibilities for building the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. Further announcements will be shared as the committee’s work progresses.