The College of Human Ecology has a long history as a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion through our academic, research and outreach programs. To align the College's ongoing efforts with the objectives outlined in Belonging at Cornell and racial justice work, the College collectively develops initiatives and assesses and evaluates the impact of its activity. By doing so, it aims to better engage the College community and improve its impact in this area.

Racial Justice

The College is undertaking a series of action steps as part of a comprehensive plan to work against systemic racism and structural inequality and to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Message from Dean Rachel Dunifon, July 20, 2020

To College of Human Ecology faculty, staff and students:

The College of Human Ecology has a proud tradition of education focused on improving social systems to increase human health and well-being. Founded as a college providing a science-based education to women, we have a longstanding commitment to educating those often marginalized in society. As a Land Grant Institution at an Ivy League University, we draw upon cutting-edge research to address the most pressing human issues faced by society.

Recent examples of longstanding racialized violence throughout our country make clear that we need to do much more. The College of Human Ecology does not stand silent in the face of racial and social injustice; we must be part of the solution. An ongoing commitment and accountability is critical in light of the ongoing public health crisis of violence and oppression against Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

Recognizing that systemic racial and social injustice requires systematic approaches to dismantle, here I provide some initial action steps the College of Human Ecology will take in the coming weeks and months. These initial steps are part of a comprehensive plan to work more actively against systemic racism and structural inequality and to promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging and support the commitment articulated by President Pollack. The engagement and input of faculty, staff and students will be integral and critical to these efforts. We are committed to providing opportunities and safe spaces for all to be part of this work.

Awareness, dialogue and training:

  • All faculty, staff and students have been provided access to Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Anti-Racist.” The College will lead a series of community-wide discussions of this book this summer and fall.
  • Results from the recent Belonging at Cornell Survey will be shared with our community. We will also gather more detailed information regarding racial and social justice and equity in the college to inform our work.
  • The College leadership team will take part in ongoing education and dialogue to continuously broaden our perspectives and inform the way we lead and approach racial and social justice and equity.
  • We will provide and encourage college-wide conversation, education and training around anti-racism and equity starting this fall.

College structures and programming:

  • I will appoint a Dean’s Fellow for Social Justice and Equity. This faculty member will report to me, will lead faculty-driven efforts in the area and will be part of the Dean’s leadership team. A position description and call for interest will be sent to faculty soon.
  • I will form a Social Justice and Equity leadership team consisting of staff, faculty and students. This team will be empowered to engage our community in identifying meaningful action, developing action steps, evaluating our progress and tailoring our plans accordingly. I will meet regularly with this team.  
  • I will work with colleagues to enhance our curriculum and out-of-classroom experiences to incorporate racial and social justice and equity. In doing so, we will build upon our history of community engaged learning to provide students the opportunity to put their education into action to create social change.
  • The College will continue to seek and provide support that makes both in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences accessible for all students regardless of circumstance. 
  • The College will seek to develop graduate fellowships that enhance the diversity of our graduate programs and the pipeline in academia. 
  • Through awards, grants and other mechanisms, the College will recognize and support faculty, staff and students whose work enhances racial and social justice and equity.
  • I will launch a college-wide strategic planning process that has diversity, equity, racial and social justice, and belonging as an essential component to our vision, goals, and plans, drawing upon the specific strengths and perspectives that Human Ecology contributes in this area.


  • To the extent possible given the current financial situation, I will work with departments to prioritize faculty searches that have the potential to enhance faculty diversity.
  • We will work to increase the diversity of our student body and the leadership of student organizations, as well as develop new student organizations that enhance racial and social justiceand equity and provide opportunities to create supportive communities.

I look forward to working with all of you on these critical topics over the coming years.


The Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean