Executive Dean

Executive Dean Max J. Pfeffer

Max J. Pfeffer, international professor of development sociology, is executive dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Appointed to this new role on May 1, 2017, he focuses on special initiatives for the college, building on recommendations in the CALS Strategic Plan and the CALS Structure Task Force. He will also continue some ongoing duties, including the exploration of new joint programming with international partners.

Pfeffer’s expertise and research in key policy areas—including land use and environmental planning, rural and agricultural labor markets, and rural-to-urban and international migration—have helped Cornell develop a reputation with policy makers for innovative solutions to pressing social issues. His academic work has focused on a variety of rural and urban communities in New York, Mexico, and Central America.

He has been awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Research Initiative and its Fund for Rural America, and the Social Science Research Council.  Pfeffer has published a wide range of scholarly articles and has written/co-edited four books, including (with John Schelhas) “Saving Forests, Protecting People? Environmental Conservation in Central America.”

Pfeffer has served on and led National Research Council committees of the Water Science and Technology Board, and has served as Chair of the New York Sea Grant Board of Governors. He has been senior associate dean, chair of the Department of Development Sociology and the associate director of both the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cornell University Center for the Environment. 

Max Pfeffer oversees the following units:


  • Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management


  • Tang Scholars Program
  • Tata-Cornell Institute
  • International MOUs

Renee M. Hoffman Renee M. Hoffman

Administrative Assistant to Max Pfeffer

Renee M. Hoffman assists Executive Dean Pfeffer as he oversees his portfolio and assists with special projects. To schedule an appointment with Executive Dean Pfeffer or for inquiries related to one of the units under his purview, please contact Renee at 607-255-3755 or

Contact Information

271 & 272 Roberts Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-5905
Telephone: 607-255-3755