CALS Special Election Candidate Information





RTE Faculty Seat:

Robin Blakely-Armitage, DSOC


As a Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Development Sociology and the Program Manager of CaRDI (Community & Regional Development Institute), I have been part of the changing landscape in CALS for almost 2 decades.  I am interested in looking for opportunities to further integrate CALS’ extension, engagement and outreach activities with our research and teaching in order to more effectively train and engage students, and to be more responsive to the challenges of an increasingly complex world.  These challenges demand new multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches, including engaging with practitioners and policymakers in the field.  The work of many RTE faculty is an integral part of this movement and to the college’s continued relevance and impact.  I look forward to working with the other members of the CALS Faculty Executive committee to represent these interests and goals, and to serve the CALS community as a whole.

Robert Karpman, DYSON


The Dyson School is not like any other undergraduate business school in America. Our business is a better world! This mission has been nurtured by its close affiliation within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, particularly in the areas of developmental economics, agricultural economics, engagement, and agri-business.

As a faculty member in the Dyson School, I could think of no better way to maintain and grow this close relationship between Dyson and CALS as by serving as an RTE member of the CALS Executive Faculty Committee.

Having multiple years of experience in both the disciplines of business and life sciences, I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve on the Executive Faculty Committee. The majority of my work at Dyson has been to introduce undergraduate students to the important association between business and the life sciences. The Dyson School cannot achieve its mission without the assistance of CALS. Neither   can the tremendous transformations that have been occurring in the life sciences be as impactful without the assistance of the Dyson School.

I feel that by serving on the Executive Faculty Committee, I can continue to bridge that strategic gap.

Annalisa Raymer, DSOC


In putting my name forward for the open RTE position on the CALS Executive Faculty Committee, I affirm my commitment to furthering a culture of learning and growth throughout Cornell.  This is a mission I currently pursue in my role as an educator and a program director, creating partnerships of reciprocal, mutual learning by pairing students and campus employees.  As I teach Cornell students the arts of designing and facilitating learning experiences, I support them in their work as educational mentors of adult learners.  My skillset and perspectives are assets which can strengthen the work of the CALS Executive Faculty Committee.  Groups I work with surprise themselves with their productivity and their results.  Participants remark on how smart the team is, and what a joy it is to come to meetings and workshops, as did Kelly, a Fellow in a yearlong teaching cohort I led:

She knows how to bring out the best in individuals while effortlessly facilitating the group process.  In the end, we learned much about teaching and learning but also built a strong support group for future projects and endeavors.  Her vision for building a culture for engagement, both on campus and in the community, reflects her forward-looking approach to institutional change. 


Rachel Bezner Kerr, DSOC


I would like to stand for election for the CALS Diversity and Inclusion Committee because I think that diversity and inclusion are crucial for ensuring high quality education. I have worked for many years doing participatory, interdisciplinary in Malawi and Tanzania, and have also worked in cross-cultural and diverse organizations in the United States, such as being on the Board of Groundswell Local Food and Farming. This kind of work requires careful listening and dialogue to people from diverse backgrounds. I take seriously the priority of addressing questions of systemic inequities in our education and society, and think that CALS has work to do in this regard. I have spoken to a number of Cornell undergraduate and graduate students from historically marginalized groups, who express feelings of being isolated, ignored and undermined. I would focus on ways to address these concerns as part of this committee.

Carlyn Buckler, SIPS


In past work in fostering diversity and inclusion. I have collaborated with the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance and the Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP), to co-write a funded proposal to develop and run a summer camp for the children in the Dominican neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan. The 5-day/week summer camp is free to local children, is run by the Dyckman Farmhouse and graduate students from CGP, and provides programming in art and science education focusing on the natural world in the area. Campers also get a free lunch and snacks made by a local Dominican restaurant focused on healthy food made with locally sourced produce. The camp has been running continuously for 4 years, and is now funded through the Adobe Foundation and NY State. I have also worked with the Paleontological Research Institution/Museum of the Earth (PRI) to write funded NSF grants to provide GIAC (Greater Ithaca Activities Center) a “Scientist in Residence” program, which mentors underserved middle school children in an afterschool science program. The Scientists in Residence had hands-on, mentored experiences in each department of PRI – collections, education/outreach, and exhibitions – to help create a sense of belonging and ownership of the process of science. Since coming to SIPS in July, 2018, I have been active in the SIPS ABC (Achieving Belonging in our Community) group since its inception, working specifically towards (a) driving the mission and vision for the group, (b) heading the sub-group which will help to give input for the remodeling of the Plant Science building to include the representation of underserved populations in art and pictures throughout the building, as well as surveying those with physical challenges to address universal design aspects of the building - access issues of ingress and egress to the building, bathrooms, elevators; access to classroom resources, etc. I am also working on a project with the graduate student representatives within SIPS-ABC to develop a more inclusive environment among the SIPS graduate students. I have done informal surveys of graduate students from both campuses to generate ideas/programs that would increase a sense of belonging, both within the Ithaca and Geneva grad student populations, as well as the group as a whole.

Katja Poveda, ENTOM Website

As a Latina, I am especially interested in this position, as I have the first-hand experience of some of the struggles we face as women and Latina faculty at the University. In my case, many of the struggles are cultural and I am interested in learning about the struggles of other underrepresented groups and to find solutions that can increase the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff alike.

Vimal Selvaraj, ANSC Website

About 3-weeks ago, I was waiting to board the flight back to NYC from Thiruvananthapuram in South India. I was visiting my dad at the hospital. I saw a food vending cart at the terminal and was surprised to see that they were selling “alai-aapam” - a tea-time snack that is made of rice and wheat flour with a filling of coconut and brown sugar, wrapped and steamed in a Peepal leaf. I remember having this as a child at home, thanks to my mom’s cooking. I bought one, sat down, and took a bite; the first thing that happened was that my eyes welled up with tears. Imprinting is what we are used to and pretty much dictates how we see and interpret life around us. Although I spent most of my life outside India - whether it was craving for Nigerian cassava fufu with Okro soup (my parents never let me try the winged termites that are harvested for stir frying after the first summer rain in South Nigeria) or jackfruit chips. I have come to understand that it is core experiences that ultimately count in what shapes perception and response to stimuli that acknowledge the fact that we are alive. After doing a postdoc in neuroscience, I have linked experience to principles - that pretty much highlight individuality rather than generalizations or factions. All this being said, I have shunned anything associated with diversity all my life - not that I considered it unimportant, but I questioned the ways in which life and study/workplaces promote diversity. Although there is more room to educate myself on this topic (I am not trained in the social sciences), I carefully thought about joining this CALS committee when I learned that I was nominated. I think the future will be strong if we listen to authentic voices and construct an academic habitat that would model the select positives of human civilization. I was a participant/spectator in the Cornell Faculty Institute for Diversity a long time ago, but after attending the the annual faculty of color reception in 2011, I never attended the subsequent events (as I questioned the logic of this being an activity for inclusiveness after the experience). Nevertheless, I have my point of view that I am not afraid to cast out there, and this is what I will bring to the committee if elected. Thank you.