Diversity, Inclusion, & Accessibility

Cornell University is a place where we develop intercultural skills and use them everywhere -- throughout our diverse campus groups, with our community partners, within our classrooms and in our workplaces.  Here, we recognize that people with diverse backgrounds and experiences bring great value to education, discovery, creativity, and engagement which is reflected in our long history of diversity and inclusion.

In the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), we take pride in the ways in which our land grant mission calls us to address the needs of diverse stakeholders as well as our long tradition of international engagement. However, we are continuing to actively work at identifying barriers faced by underrepresented groups among faculty, staff, and students. (For more insights on the benefits of a diverse working environment, read Katherine Phillips' article in Scientific AmericanHow Diversity Makes Us Smarter and other readings in the Readings/resources section below.)

Our goal is to insure that SIPS provides a welcoming environment where individuals can bring their diverse backgrounds and experiences to our collective task of finding science-based solutions to the world's challenges. 

See also: Cornell diversity dashboard.

Inaugural Turner Fellows advance global food security

Eight graduate students from 1890 land grant institutions across the United States have been selected as part of the inaugural cohort of Thomas Wyatt Turner Fellows at Cornell University. (View Meet the Fellows video below.) Representing a wide range of research specialties relevant to advancing global crop improvement — from plant and environmental sciences to nutrition and public health — the fellows bring a holistic lens to the most pressing threats facing global food security. Hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, fellows will spend one academic year at Cornell, taking courses and engaging in research with a Cornell faculty mentor that will drive advancement in crop improvement to reduce malnutrition and hunger and provide equitable benefits to women and youth.  Read more.

SIPS Diversity and Inclusion Council update

Learn more about the latest activities of our Diversity and Inclusion Council and discover new ways to incorporate diversity and inclusion issues into your daily life from the Cornell AgriTech Diversity and Inclusion Bulletin.

Diversity, Inclusion, & Accessibility resources

Since 2000, Cornell University has had a program to track bias that is occurring on all campuses in an effort to be proactive in creating an inclusive climate for all. The Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity is responsible for collecting and tracking all reported bias activity that occurs at Cornell University that could potentially impact our commitment to diversity and inclusion, including all reports made by faculty, staff, students, and visitors to the Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech campuses. If you have seen, heard, or experienced bias, you can make a report here:

Bias Incident Form

Cornell's Accessibility Services page provides accessibility information for faculty/staff, students, and visitors including:

  • Assistive technology for classes and meetings
  • Accessible dining and library details
  • Contacts to report a physical barrier to accessibility
  • Accessible meeting and event checklist
  • Contacts for the ADA Coordinator Team
  • Resources for obtaining accommodations at Cornell
  • First SIPS Associate Director of DEI named: Chelsea Specht
  • SIPS Chair of Diversity & Inclusion - September 2021: Tom Silva welcomed as SIPS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Connecting in SIPS - August 2021: SIPS Diversity & Inclusion Council sponsors a discussion of Beronda Montgomery’s book Lessons from Plants
  • SIPS Chair of Diversity & Inclusion - May 2020: Hale Tufan was welcomed as SIPS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion. In addition to serving on the SIPS Executive Committee she also serves on the CALS Committee for Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Diversity Audit: 2017-2018 SIPS contracted with Gender at Work to conduct a gender/diversity audit to identify barriers to enhancing diversity in SIPS.
  • Diversity Preview Weekend: introduces underrepresented minorities to our research programs the year before they apply to graduate school (News coverage: 2018201920202021)
  • 2021 SIPS Annual Report: See the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion section and appendix of the Annual Report for a list of activities by SIPS members
  • Plant science outreach in the public schoolsgraduate students teach science to the elementary grades in IthacaGenevaNew York City
  • Expanding your Horizons: graduate students, faculty and staff present lead workshops for girls in grades 7-9 (2020, 20172016)
  • Summer Research Scholars Program: providing undergraduate interns with the opportunity to work with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff on laboratory or field-based research projects

This statement on June 3, 2020 is from then SIPS director Christine Smart, the SIPS Executive Committee and Directors of Graduate Studies, detailis SIPS commitment to racial justice:

Dear SIPS Community,

Like many of you, I have been following recent events in our nation. I stand with the Black community during this difficult time. I personally have felt anger, sadness, and helplessness as the racial injustice we continue to witness has made many feel unsafe, stressed and traumatized.

I, along with the Executive Committee, and the Directors of Graduate Studies of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell stand in solidarity against all forms of racism. We condemn acts of violence and hate and commit to keeping our community safe and welcoming to all. We chose not to simply write a statement denouncing racism that will change nothing. Our community deserves better. We have a responsibility to effect change, oppose racism, and support social justice. We have challenged ourselves, as leaders of the School of Integrative Plant Science, to seed a culture of change. We have committed to the following actions:

  • Work with SACNAS and MANRRS chapters to provide summer internships in plant science
  • Follow up on the Diversity Audit conducted in 2017 to host listening tours with graduate students, faculty, staff and postdocs to identify barriers and remove them for a more diverse faculty, staff, and student body
  • Continue funding of the Diversity Preview Weekend
  • Host SIPS events, talks, training, community discussions around social justice
  • Partner with Cornell AgriTech leadership to enhance diversity workshops and community discussions in Geneva
  • Challenge each executive committee member to lead an activity surrounding social justice, anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion. We have devoted the July Executive Committee meeting to this discussion.
  • Ensure that all members of SIPS know that diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, and social justice are priorities for the School.

We urge each of you to take this time to reflect on racial injustice. Bring your ideas and passion and work with us to enable change.

Our Stories

Working through first-gen challenges

Tom Silva is a senior lecturer in the Plant Biology Section and chair of the SIPS Diversity and Inclusion Council. He was also the first in his family to attend college, and shares his story with his students to help them overcome anxiety and imposter syndrome.

The Our Stories series profiles diverse members of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) community.  

tom silva

Around campus

Botanic Gardens features Seeds of Survival and Celebration exhibit

An exhibit at the Nevin Welcome Center reveals how enslaved Africans used their culinary skills and plants that came with them from West Africa to prepare foods, which eventually became regional staples. During the 2022 growing season, special gardens featured more than 20 plants grown and used by enslaved Africans in the Americas. Learn more:

map showing migration of crops from Africa to the Americas

Land Acknowledgment

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America.  We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.