About International Professors

International Professor is a prestigious title bestowed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences reflecting faculty members committed to international development. 

The titles were first established in 1962 to support six new faculty positions in the rural social sciences. Funded by the Ford Foundation, these original International Professors created new roles for three faculty —  Professors John W. Mellor, J. Paul Leagans and Robert Polson — and the hiring of three others — Solon Barraclough (Agricultural Economics), Thomas T. Poleman (Agricultural Economics) and Frank W. Young (Rural Sociology). 

A second Ford Foundation grant in 1966 added three new professors in the agricultural sciences — Matthew Drosdoff (Agronomy), Robert E. McDowell (Animal Science) and David Thurston (Plant Pathology) — and supported a fourth professor, Loy V. Crowder (Plant Breeding).

The Ford Foundation grants covered these 10 faculty salaries along with a package of support that included student assistantships, travel and staff salaries. In the early 1970s New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the State Legislature provided ongoing support for nine of those faculty positions. Through the 1980s new faculty were brought in as the original International Professors retired. 

Interest in the title received renewed energy in the early 2000s when Ronnie Coffman, director of International Programs at CALS, and Dean Susan Henry expanded the program to more Cornell faculty engaged in international work. 

More than 70 faculty have now held the International Professor designation. Candidates for the title must hold an academic professorial appointment in a department or section. While most of the members are from CALS, there are faculty in other colleges who have earned the title for their international efforts through close alignment with the college.

Agriculture and Rural Development


Earth and Atmospheric Sciences