Diversity & Inclusion at Cornell

Reunion 2013: the 22nd Annual Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) Social

Diversity & Inclusion at Cornell

Cornell's approach to institutional inclusion and diversity planning is holistic. Our commitments, both regulatory and strategic, involve novel approaches to improve campus culture and our demographic composition.

Our Defining Focus

A diverse community includes everyone and is the foundation for the meaningful exploration and exchange of ideas. Since its founding, Cornell University has encouraged a culture that provides for the full participation of all members of our campus community—this keeps us at the leading edge in education and in our fields and practices. Cornell University is a place where intercultural skills are developed and enacted among diverse campus constituencies, with community partners, and within the classroom and workplace.

Join us in our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by adding what is unique about your perspective to our intellectual community. At Cornell we don’t simply want you to fit in with what we are already doing—we want you to expand our horizons, blaze new trails, pursue new knowledge, and share all of what you have to offer with all of us.

Our Historic Commitment

At a time when the American Equal Rights Association was being formed as a coalition between women's rights and anti-slavery organizations (1866)—and prior to the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868)—university co-founders Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White were committed to creating a university that was open to all individuals, regardless of race or gender.

Two statements from the co-founders confirmed Cornell University’s commitment to diversity. In a letter dated February 17, 1867, Ezra Cornell stated that he wanted to have girls educated in the university as well as boys, so that they could have the same opportunities. And in 1874, Andrew Dickson White affirmed that the university would accept students of color even if the 500 enrolled white students “asked for dismissal on this account.” Since that time, Cornell University has had many diversity “firsts”. Learn more at Cornell’s Diversity Timeline.

Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds

In 1998, an ad hoc group of faculty, staff, and students formed the Campus Climate Committee to institutionalize a respectful, inclusive, diverse community. It was led by then dean of faculty, J. Robert Cooke, and co-chaired by Professor Robert Harris, Jr., and then director of university ministries Robert Johnson, Jr. The group met over the course of a year and a half to develop a vision for the university, “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds,” which has since provided the foundation for subsequent efforts to address diversity and inclusion at Cornell.