CIPA Supports the Department of Education

kimberly vallejo
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Dear Provost Fuchs and Dean Boor,

We, the students of the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, are writing to you to express our concern regarding the unilateral decision to close the Department of Education over the next two years and its impact on the future of the Public Affairs program here at Cornell.

We have found it extremely valuable to have a department dedicated specifically to the study of education for the following reasons:

  • The Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) is an interdisciplinary program that draws on schools and departments across campus. We typically rely on information made available from other departments to find faculty advisors with research interests similar to our own. Several CIPA fellows chose CIPA over another Ivy League Public Affairs program because during the decision-making process, they were able to connect with faculty in Department of Education. Without an institutional commitment to the study of education, evidenced by a Department of Education, candidates searching for a public affairs program with a strong background in education will choose to go elsewhere.
  • Education is at the heart of social policy. Many CIPA fellows have interests that are varied within education such as education policy, community education, and adult education. Those who work in international development, in the non-profit sector and in other policy arenas benefit in the critical study of teaching, learning and the creation of knowledge, as it directly effects their practice in working with communities to define and solve societal problems. The space, physically and academically, for the professors in the Department to share with us their research and best practices has made the course offerings in Education a rich and meaningful contribution to the study of public affairs. All of us who develop and implement policies and programs that serve the broader community, both domestically and abroad, have been served well by the Department, and have a stake in its dissolution.
  • The ability to have a field faculty member from the Department of Education has strengthened CIPA’s ability to provide students writing theses and professional reports on topics related to education policy and education programs with high quality advising.

We are concerned about the elimination of the Department of Education for the following reasons:

  • The elimination of the Education Department may lead to the exit of all or most of faculty whose primary appointments are in the Education Department. While we understand faculty cuts aren't actually a part of this plan, displacing scholars certainly communicates clearly that they do not have a critical and valued role within the university. This  would understandably spur many of them to seek appointments at other universities, in which their contributions are more highly valued.
  • The dissolution of the Education Department also has the potential to virtually eliminate and obscure education-related course offerings. Without a departmental base, we are concerned that there would be a great deal fewer courses (out of an already modest list), and that the ones that remain would be less cohesive and interrelated, having only a peripheral relationship to the field of education.
  • As mentioned above, for many CIPA applicants, the opportunity to take courses within the education department was an important part of choosing to come to Cornell. Without this department to draw from, many students would have had serious reservations about whether pursuing a degree at Cornell would afford them the opportunity to study within all of their areas of interest. As an Institute, our admissions numbers have consistently been on the rise, changes in the Departmental offerings of the University may deter students from coming to CIPA in the future as it will appear that our “interdisciplinary” program has fewer departments from which our student can draw experience.
  • As a program that is made up significantly of international students, CIPA students feel that the closing of the Education Department would be a great loss for those of us who aspire to contribute to effective educational policy-making not just in the US, but all over the world.

We respectfully ask that you reconsider your decision to close the Department of Education given the impact that the closing will have not just on the quality of the education that CIPA fellows receive but the impact that closing the Department of Education will have across this campus and beyond.

Respectfully the undersigned CIPA Fellows,




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