SIPS was launched by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in June 2014 to provide a unifying framework for five Sections (formerly Departments) with interrelated activities in the plant sciences at Cornell: Horticulture, Plant Biology, Plant Breeding & Genetics, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology, and Soil & Crop Sciences. The Sections are associated with distinct disciplines, graduate fields, and knowledge bases, but are increasingly connected by urgent challenges and revolutionary tools relevant to all plant scientists.

The SIPS community envisions fundamental insights as the foundation for achieving better plants, sustainably grown, serving the world.

  • New insights into plant cellular systems, plant interactions with emerging pests and pathogens, stresses of a changing climate, and human nutritional needs will produce a growing queue for useful plant improvements.
  • Novel and precision agriculture methods can dramatically alter agroecosystems in favor of environmental sustainability and prolonged productivity.
  • All of these advances have the potential to improve economic activity and human health and well-being locally and around the world.

An operating principle of the School is to maximize information flow in all directions across the broad activities that start with fundamental insights and culminate in service to the world.

SIPS constitution

Strategic Planning

  • Director: Direct and coordinate strategic planning for the School
  • Section Chair: Lead strategic planning for Section in the context of the School plan

New faculty hiring

  • Director: Oversee faculty hiring priorities among Sections and submit faculty hiring requests to the Dean
  • Section Chair: Lead faculty hiring prioritization for the Section in the context of the School strategic plan

New faculty mentoring

  • Director: Review faculty mentoring process
  • Section Chairs: Conduct mentorship and review of faculty

Faculty Tenure/Promotion

  • Director: Provide tenure and promotion recommendations to Dean
  • Section Chairs: Manage tenure and promotion, provide recommendations to the Director

Teaching and TAs

  • Director: Coordination of TA assignment process
  • Section Chairs: Make teaching assignments among faculty and TAs

Budget & space assignments

  • Director: Oversight of fiscal management for the School
  • Section Chairs: Fiscal management of section budget & space assignments

Graduate Fields: Application requirements, Field requirements

  • Changes to Graduate Field policy are decided by votes of Graduate Field members. Votes are typically called by the Field DGS
  • Section chairs and SIPS Director: can vote within the Fields of which they are members

New Initiatives

  • Ideas for initiatives and committees within the school are brought to the Executive Committee for discussion prior to their formation

In the coming decades, the world must arrive at solutions to the major challenges of feeding a burgeoning population, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and preserving biodiversity and essential ecosystem functions. Plants underpin all agricultural and natural ecosystems and environmental impacts on plant  systems will cascade at local, regional, national, and international scales. But plants will also be the basis for solutions. Innovative approaches and revolutionary breakthroughs in plant sciences will be used to  meet these challenges and help secure a sustainable future for coming generations.

Cornell scientists are at the crux of research leading to those solutions. Faculty across the plant science disciplines are engaged in laboratory and field work, teaching and mentoring, as well as community outreach to translate the academic gains into real-world action.

For more than a century, Cornell University has been among the best in the world at developing multifaceted teams to address some of the world's biggest challenges. That legacy of achievement continues. In response to these emerging and increasingly urgent needs, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is establishing the School of Integrative Plant Science. The School will be structured in a way that allows for the disciplines composing the School to maximize their creativity in the context of a coordinating structure that will create and promote a whole new class of innovative interactions, in addition to creating a high level.

of visibility for the plant sciences at Cornell. The principal goals of creating The School of Integrative Plant Science are to coordinate strategic planning and faculty hiring in the plant sciences and thereby  allow  strength and innovation in areas of key importance in research, teaching and extension and to grow the undergraduate major. The School will foster effective responses to the major challenges facing humanity by:

  • Developing and maintaining prominent high impact research and extension programs in the plant sciences;
  • Training scientists, food producers, educators policy makers and citizens will be capable of addressing these challenges;
  • Increasing the visibility of the plant sciences in ways that attract more undergraduate majors to careers in the plant sciences;
  • Engaging in effective extension and outreach programs to address immediate and emerging issues state, national and international levels.

Feeding a future world with 9 billion inhabitants, providing bioenergy to help power that world, preserving biological diversity and essential ecosystem functions in that world, creating environments that promote human well-being, and realizing medical and manufacturing opportunities afforded through a better understanding of natural products are all founded in plant science. Meeting these challenges is core to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This mission is to:

  • Advance knowledge of the unity and diversity of life;
  • Develop agricultural systems to establish and maintain safe, nutritious food supplies for current future generations;
  • Promote wise stewardship of the environment and natural resources and creating economical, sustainable energy strategies;
  • Foster economic vitality and individual and community health and well-being, and;
  • Impart to students a world-class education and passion for life-long learning and discovery.

Plant science will provide the foundation for solving many of the current and future problems facing  humanity. But to do so, much research and education is required, and the plant sciences at Cornell must be strategically poised to make these contributions. A larger and more prosperous human population will put unprecedented demands on our food system. Indeed, it is thought that food production will need to double world-wide to meet future needs. This increasing demand coupled with the impacts of climate change will require advanced crop development that takes full advantage of modern genomics, bioinformatics, synthetic biology and systems biology. Management systems must be devised that realize the potential of these new technologies. While increasing the yield of agriculture is essential, it is also critical to simultaneously reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture. In addition to the best breeding programs, we must also develop better agronomic practices including soil and water management, planting systems and the ability to predict how plants will function under a variety of environmental and management conditions. Plants must be protected from pests in safe and sustainable ways. We need to understand how plants can contribute to

meeting energy needs and how plants can be used to ameliorate global warming. Humans depend on the services that plants and agriculture provide. These include ecosystem services such as  maintenance  of  habitat for wildlife, pollinators and soil microorganisms, provisioning of food and fiber, climate stabilization, and cultural and recreational opportunities. Plants and the soils upon which they grow are the foundation for all ecosystems and hence play a pivotal role in the services ecosystems provide. Plants produce a wide range of biologically active chemicals; while some have been put to use for man’s benefit, possible uses for the vast majority of these compounds have not been studied. Assemblages of plants, either natural, managed or constructed, are appreciated for the beauty and recreational opportunities they provide. Thus, there are clear and compelling reasons for increasing our understanding of plants and associated organisms and soils, and for making use of this knowledge to improve managed systems, sustain natural systems and enhance human well- being.

While plant science is more important today than ever before, this significance is not broadly recognized in society and it will take major efforts through public outreach, education, and media engagement to change these perceptions. Bright, energetic, entrepreneurial young people will be needed to solve the grand challenges of food security, sustainable energy, climate change, and biodiversity loss, and doing so requires that a significant number of these young people will need to focus on plant science and its application.

Plant sciences in CALS must be strong for the college to meet its commitment of sustainable improvement in the lives of people in New York, the nation, and the world. This strength is threatened for three interconnected reasons. First, plant science faculty are closer to retirement age than other faculty in CALS. The implication of this is that in the absence of new faculty hires, capacity will be lost as these faculty retire. New plant science faculty will be hired in CALS; however, over the next several years the faculty replacement rate will not match the rate at which faculty retire. Therefore, faculty must be replaced in a strategic and coordinated manner by considering the needs for the plant sciences as a whole and not solely the needs of a particular plant science discipline.

Second, over the last several years, the financial model for higher education has come to rely less on public support with a corresponding greater reliance on tuition revenue. There is increased use of responsibility- centered management budgeting which prescribes how revenues are shared among units, associates revenues directly with revenue-creating activity, and assigns costs to activities that generate the costs. Currently, the plant sciences rely somewhat more heavily than other disciplines on public support. In part, this is because the plant sciences are heavily involved in extension activity by which research findings and applied technologies are brought to target audiences for the public good. Also, in part due to their extension responsibilities, plant science faculty have generally taught fewer students per faculty member than other sectors of the college. Recent initiatives have begun increasing student numbers in plant science classrooms, and the proposed reorganization plan introduces additional steps toward increasing student numbers. Nonetheless, at present, the revenue from tuition and available public support does not provide sufficient resources to support for existing plant science faculty and associated programs. With the shift to responsibility-centered budgeting, strategic planning and coordination across the plant sciences is essential. A third constraint is the public’s limited realization of the importance of plant science in ensuring food security, ecosystem sustainability, contribution as a foundational resource for the world’s agricultural and biological processes, and as a means by which new scientific knowledge can be applied for economic prosperity. Students and the public tend to overlook plant science and view medicine and certain other fields as having greater opportunities. Indeed, the actual importance of plant science for humanity versus the relative importance it now receives is a great paradox. This perception gap may narrow in the future but this will require academic institutions to initiate organizational changes that amplify the impacts and visibility of the plant sciences to a wide range of people.

To strategically position plant science in CALS, we propose the creation of the School of Integrative Plant Science. The principal goals of the School will be to coordinate strategic planning and faculty hiring in the  plant sciences and thereby allow strength and innovation in areas of key importance in research, teaching and extension and to grow the undergraduate major. The School of Integrative Plant Science will provide a visible entity to match the College’s investment in the plant sciences. One aim of the school will be to track societal and scientific needs going forward and to innovate and lead in these contexts. The School will promote synergies due to structured interactions and juxtapositions that follow from the School organization. Specific goals will be to:

  • Convey the strategic importance of the plant sciences and their critical role in solving several of most pressing problems facing humanity including providing a safe and secure food supply, mitigating the impacts of climate change, developing sustainable energy supplies, developing sustainable water and nutrient management practices, and preserving biodiversity and concomitant ecosystem services.
  • Enhance existing and forge new linkages with other programs in CALS and throughout the University.
  • Coordinate strategic planning and faculty hiring among plant science disciplines.
  • Sustain and enhance research excellence in the plant sciences.
  • Increase the number of undergraduate students in the Plant Science major by continuing to develop the plant sciences curriculum and associated student support services.
  • Better coordinate graduate student support across plant science fields.
  • Enhance the alignment of extension activities with research strengths.
  • Coordinate administrative support services to better develop expertise in support staff and allow for more dynamic allocation of support effort to match needs.

We envision the School of Integrative Plant Science to be a cohesive, collaborative community of scholars, educators, staff and students who strive to be the preeminent source of plant science research, who work towards meeting food security, energy, biodiversity, and technological innovation needs, and who provide exceptional educational opportunities for students and citizen clients.

The School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) will be composed of five Sections based on the five existing plant science departments. The proposed names for these sections are Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Systems Biology and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology. Each Section will have a Section Chair.

The School of Integrative Plant Science will have a Director and a Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). There will also be four standing committees in the School: the Executive Committee (EC), the Faculty Renewal Committee (FRC), the Committee for Promotion and Tenure (CPT) and the Undergraduate Committee on Teaching and Learning (CTL). In addition to the standing committees, Extension Leaders from each Section and Directors of Graduate Studies in the school will constitute councils that will meet to coordinate activities and advise the Director on needs and opportunities.

The School of Integrative Plant Science will have a budget derived from the budget of each section that will be used to support School functions. A proposed budget model is provided later in this report.

A model for assigning responsibilities to support staff and for mentoring and supervising these individuals will be developed by the Director and Executive Committee using two broad principles: Support staff responsibilities should be structured to encourage development of experts who can meet the needs of faculty throughout the school. Support staff should have a client base with whom they develop relationships and good understanding of needs.

School Administrative Leadership Model/Rationale

The School will be led by a Director and the Sections will be led by Section Chairs. The responsibilities at these two levels of administration are summarized in Table 1 and further elucidated below where the authority/responsibilities of the Sections vs. those of the School and the relationship between the two are laid out. In addition to defining the roles of Director and Section Chairs, the key aspects of this relationship and the implications for the responsibilities accruing to their separate administrations are provided.

Directorship, Appointment Procedure

The Director will be appointed by the Dean for a term of three to five years. If the Director is appointed from within the existing faculty, it is recommended that successive Directors be selected from different Sections so that there is no real or perceived lock on the Directorship by a particular discipline. The Director should be counseled by the Executive Committee, which the Director will chair. The Director should not simultaneously serve as a Section Chair.

Director’s Duties and Responsibilities

The Director’s primary functions, with advice from the Executive Committee, can be divided in three categories: Strategy, Education/Extension and Management and include the following specifics:

  • To lead building consensus among the units through the relationship with the Executive Committee; to represent the and opinions of the units to one another and to administration;and,when and where appropriate, to speak with one voice representing the School.
  • To lead the coordinated strategic planning for the School and its component sections
  • To appoint Chairs of Standing Committees (other than the Executive Committee which the Director Chairs).
  • To appoint and supervise the Director of Undergraduate Studies in consultation with the Executive Committee.
  • To supervise undergraduate programs and coordination of TA assignments through her/his interactions the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Undergraduate Committee on Teaching and Learning, and to coordinate with section chairs the faculty-member contributions interdisciplinary undergraduate programs.
  • To work with the Council of Section Extension Leaders (former DEL’s) and extension leadership in the
    college to coordinate extension services and resources.
  • To, in collaboration with the Executive Committee and Council of Directors of Graduate Studies, manage the School relationship with relevant Graduate Fields.
  • To step aside (by recusing herself/himself) when possible conflicts of interest arise concerning decisions relating to her/his home section as might occur in promotion and tenure decisions, certain situations regarding resource allocation etc. The Director should be advised by the Executive Committee as to when it might be appropriate to do so.
  • There will be added efficiencies in office support staff associated with the School structure—the Director will work with senior administrative staff and Section Chairs to identify an appropriate administrative support structure and supervision and mentoring system.

Table 1. Comparison of responsibilities of the School Director and Section Chairs

Section Structure and Administrative Leadership Model/Rationale

Each Section will be composed of a Section Chair (and Associate Chair where applicable), faculty  and  academic staff from the corresponding existing departments. The Sections will also include such  administrative support personnel as recommended by a committee charged with determining the ideal administrative staff support structure for the School and its Sections.

Faculty members who (for compelling reasons) feel that they would be better aligned with another Section, will have an opportunity to change to the Section they feel most appropriately fits their research, teaching and extension interests. These requests will require approval by the Dean who will consult with the Director and relevant Section Chairs.

Section Chair Responsibilities and Functions

Section Chairs have two broad sets of responsibilities, to provide leadership for the faculty and staff in their section and to integrate section activities and strategic planning with the School. More specifically, the responsibilities of the Section Chair are:

  • To lead strategic planning for the Section within the context of the School strategic plan
  • To lead faculty hiring prioritization from the Section in the context of the School strategic plan.
  • To mentor and review faculty according to procedures implemented by the College and School and to cultivate the Sectional professional identity and tenure home.
  • To manage tenure and promotion, to recommend section representatives to the School CPT, and to provide promotion and tenure recommendations to the School Director and, under certain circumstances, to the Dean.
  • To make teaching assignments within the Section in accordance with the overall needs of the School.
  • To represent the Section at college administrative meetings, including the Chairs’ meetings with the Dean pending review after the 2014/2015 academic year.
  • To administer the budget for the Section.
  • To manage a subset of TA lines and Section specific endowments.
  • To supervise and conduct performance evaluations on appropriate administrative support staff.
  • To manage space allocated to the Section and regularly discuss space needs with the Director
  • To manage space allocated to the Section and regularly discuss space needs with the Director.
  • To manage, in appropriate Sections, faculty teaching assignments related to the undergraduate major in
    Biological Sciences and to maintain a good working relationship with the Director of the Office of
    Undergraduate Biology (OUB) in order to manage the interests of the sections in the Biological
    Sciences Major.
  • To supervise college funded extension associates and lecturers

Curriculum, Undergraduate Recruitment & Mentoring and Advising, TA assignment and course  management

Director of Undergraduate Studies

A successful and vibrant plant science major will require strong leadership and robust administrative support, similar to that of other thriving majors in the college. The leadership of the major will consist of a Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) with broad responsibilities for recruitment, curriculum development, retention, advising and internships. The DUS will report directly to the Director on matters related to the responsibilities described below. The DUS will chair the Committee for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning (CTL) and will be vested with sufficient authority to make decisions regarding the Plant Science major. Strategic decisions or actions are to be discussed and evaluated by the CTL and the Executive Committee. For the DUS to be successful, s/he will also require the assistance of a Student Services Associate II  (SSA)  appointed  by the  Director, similar to the model used for other multidisciplinary majors. The DUS will be  provided  a  small  budget  by  the Director to assist with travel, facilitation of meetings,  and other  costs  associated with management of  the major.

Given the critical leadership role that School faculty and sections play in several other undergraduate majors beyond the Plant Science major, the Director of the School should ensure that Sections continue to fulfill their roles in providing leadership and contributions for all of the undergraduate programs that they serve. In addition to the Plant Science major, faculty in the School currently have leadership roles in undergraduate programs in Agricultural Sciences, International Agriculture and Rural Development, and Viticulture and Enology. Furthermore, Faculty in the School make significant teaching and advising contributions to several other undergraduate majors including Agricultural  Sciences,  Environmental  Sciences  and  Sustainability,  Science of Earth Systems, Biological Sciences, and Viticulture and Enology. In recognition of the importance of these contributions and to ensure that teaching needs beyond the plant science major continue to be met, the Director should meet regularly with the DUS for each of these majors, and work with appropriate Section Chairs to provide support for these programs.

In the list below, while the Student Services Associate II (SSA) will be supervised by the DUS, the roles of the DUS and SSA have not been separated since a specific division of tasks will be arranged between the two. Regardless of the division of labor, some high level duties will be the responsibility of the SSA, so this position will require more skills than an administrative assistant position would provide.

The specific roles of the DUS, supported where appropriate by the SSA, and in a reporting relationship with the Director of the School will be:

  • Continually review and revise learning outcomes with the Committee for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning. Work with Section Chairs to ensure that critical courses are offered to allow learning outcomes and concentrations to be achieved.
  • Develop assessments of learning outcomes and ensure that students have met the requirements graduation in the major.
  • Lead the CTL in annual review of the assessments to determine students’ success in achieving the learning outcomes for the major. Based on the assessment review, determine revisions (if any) need to be made to the curriculum. Submit an annual report of the assessment review to the CALS Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs.
  • Together with appropriate Section Chairs, oversee peer review of teaching. Ensure that courses are peer-reviewed regularly; every second year for courses offered yearly or every other time they offered for courses delivered on an alternating year schedule.
  • Manage course names, numbers, and room assignments when possible.
  • Ensure that all undergraduate plant science courses (4000 level and below) are listed in one l
  • Inform the Director of facility needs in teaching.
  • Together the CTLO, work with faculty to improve teaching methods. Provide a forum for sharing and discussing teaching methods within the School. Encourage faculty to attend workshops related to teaching.
  • Develop and implement a plan for recruitment, both internally and externally, using various targeted media (web site, brochure, Facebook, etc.) and personal contact with promising candidates (e.g. Cornell Days, drop-in visitors, school visits, plant science ambassadors).
  • Cultivate a relationship with CALS Admissions and provide input on the type of applicants freshmen and transfers) desired by the major, and work with CALS administration to optimize admission targets.
  • Develop an orientation program for incoming freshmen and transfer students. Ensure that these students receive special attention their first semester at Cornell.
  • Conduct exit interviews with graduating seniors.
  • Recruit advisors and oversee the assignment of advisors. Provide training for advisors. Ensure consistency of advising. Build a pool of specific advisors for specific concentrations and transfer students.
  • Provide back-up advising when faculty are travelling.
  • Cultivate relationships with CALS Career Development to enhance relationships with potential
    employers, community colleges and SUNY schools. Determine characteristics and experiences desired of
    graduates and ensure that these are incorporated into the learning outcomes
  • Identify opportunities for student internships and research. Provide general oversight of internship programs.
  • Receive, manage and approve student petitions.
  • Identify opportunities for student internships and research. Provide general oversight of internship
    programs.
  • Receive, manage and approve student petitions.
  • Explore the possibility of offering various minors through the School.
  • Keep track of data on applications, admissions, and employment after graduation.
  • Plan, coordinate and implement events around graduation for all plant science majors.
  • Communicate with other DUSs in related majors (Ag Science, VIEN, IARD) and minors to coordinate
  • teaching functions and avoid conflicts in scheduling. Explore options for broader gateways into the
  • college.
  • Communicate regularly with the school director regarding matters of teaching and learning

Faculty in the School make significant teaching contributions to several other undergraduate majors including Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Sustainability, Science of Earth Systems, Biological Sciences, International Agriculture and Rural Development, and Viticulture and Enology. In recognition of the importance of these contributions and to ensure that teaching needs beyond the plant science major continue to be met, the Director should meet regularly with the DUS for each of these majors.

Graduate student support and teaching responsibilities

Teaching assistantships (TAs) provided from the college to the School and sections serve two  critical  functions: i) support for classroom teaching and ii) support for graduate programs. The desired number of TAs is far greater than what is available; hence, a mechanism needs to be established to optimize this resource while maintaining a broad portfolio of graduate student opportunities.

Graduate field support: Units are currently assigned a number of TA lines and these are used to support the appropriate graduate fields. Units use these lines, together with grants, endowments, fellowships and assistantships in other units to create support packages for accepted students. Specific strategies have been developed within each unit and fine-tuned over time, so under the reorganization, support for a field will remain with the unit most closely affiliated with that field.

The School will receive TA allocations from the college based on teaching metrics and priorities established by the college and recommendations of the Office of Academic Programs. Allocations within the School will be assigned by the Director following consultation with the Executive Committee and Directors of Graduate Studies. Consideration will be given to each Section so that graduate programs in respective fields can be supported and sustained. The goal will be to help fields avoid large or rapid fluctuations in numbers of lines. Therefore, the Director, Executive Committee, and Directors of Graduate Studies will meet every three years to evaluate the allocation of TA lines to respective sections. If a shift is deemed necessary, then a plan will be developed to shift the resource at an appropriate time and at an appropriate rate.

Teaching support: All students supported on TA lines will be required to teach, together with those on teaching-dedicated endowments and those required to teach as part of their degree program. A list of anticipated teaching-eligible students will be provided to the Director and Director of Undergraduate Studies each June and updated in November. A parallel process will be established to identify classes that desire a TA, and data will be assembled relating to historical student numbers, type of class, and faculty expectations for TAs in that class. The School Director and the Director of Undergraduate Studies will develop a plan for TA assignments in conjunction with the Executive Committee, and in consultation with the instructors, that optimizes the use of TAs in the classroom. All students on TA lines will be available to assist in any class within the plant sciences, regardless of which section/field supports the student. The plan will be revealed as soon as possible before the start of each semester so that faculty and students can plan accordingly.

Recruiting: Each Graduate Field approaches graduate student recruiting differently. One of the responsibilities of the Director will be to examine each field’s approach to recruitment and determine if there can be efficiencies gained by advertising together and/or hosting together. Given the large diversity in the types of students applying and desired by faculty, it is perhaps not possible  to design  one  approach for  accepting students  into the different plant science fields. However, at a minimum, the Directors of Graduate Studies (DGS’s) together with the Director, should determine if the process is matching applicants with the most appropriate field, and consider strategies to improve the pool of applicants.

Administrative Support (Structure/management/development)

Administrative support will be designed for the School. This will be accomplished by commissioning an ad hoc committee to be chaired by senior Department Business Managers who are familiar with the current plant science departments. The following capacities/functions should be maintained while optimizing the spatial disposition and reporting relationships of employees:

• Business manager
• Financial reporting
• Pre proposal preparation
• Director and Section Chair assistants
• Assistant to Director of Undergraduate Studies
• Graduate Field Assistant (GFA)
• Standing Committee support
• Website support
• Seminar/Event support
• General Section support

Background: The ad hoc committee will be asked to design an administrative support staffing structure, its deployment, and reporting relationships for the new School of Integrative Plant Science. The School will be structured in a way that allows for each of the sections composing the School to function in a way that maximizes creativity in effectively carrying out the missions associated with each of the sections, but in the context of a coordinating structure that will create and promote a whole new class of innovative interactions, in addition to creating a high level of visibility for the plant sciences at Cornell.

Constraints and Principles: The number of administrative support staff will be in alignment with college-wide metrics for administrative support. The disposition of support personnel is evolving with shared personnel having been successfully implemented at a number of levels including business manager, pre-proposal preparation and events coordinator. It has been possible to accomplish this increase in efficiency because of a generally higher level of staff expertise and because specialization has made effective shared positions possible. We expect these two factors to play an important role in the design of administrative support in the School.

We also recognize that the disposition of support personnel has been driven to some extent by historical factors rather than completely implemented by algorithms based on department activities. We expect that such algorithms might be applied in designing an optimal model for School and Sections staff support.  However,  we add that any changes or redeployments of personnel that might follow from such analyses  should be made in a fashion that is as non-disruptive to the Sections experiencing such changes as possible. We expect spatial relationships (staff distributions) to be maintained as appropriate to the need for personal contact between service providers and clients. And, congruent with that goal, we expect reporting relationships to be logically based on the spatial relationships (proximity) among supporting personnel and the administrations of the School and its Sections.

Extension Programs

Extension programming within the five sections in the proposed School of Integrative Plant Science would be coordinated and overseen by the Council of Extension Leaders (CEL). The CEL will be composed of  SELs (section extension leaders) from each of the sections with active extension programming. Also the CEL will include one member from each Program Work Team (PWT) that is closely aligned programmatically with one or more of the sections. A primary function of the CEL is to effectively communicate and coordinate extension programming across the sections such that more efficient and integrated programming is achieved, and to serve as a communication link with the School Director and the Director and Associate Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. The Director will appoint a chair from amongst the SELs who will serve a term of 3-5 years with possibility of re-appointment. Each PWT will specify the duration of the appointment for their representative on the CEL. A section extension leader may also serve in the role of PWT representative if need be, but this is not encouraged. The CEL chair will sit as an ex-officio on the Executive Committee of the School of Integrative Plant Science and will use these meetings to inform and update the Executive Committee and Director of the School on extension related issues. The Chair of the CEL as well as section extension leaders will also actively represent the overall interests and concerns of section members and Program Work Teams  to Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Directors.

This organizational structure will facilitate:

  • Evaluation of the current mix of Program Work Teams in the plant sciences, consideration of new PWTs, and restructuring and realignment of PWTs to increase coordination and stakeholder impact.
  • Professional development opportunities across the various section extension programs and PWTs.
  • Coordination of inter-section extension-related conferences and workshops via the use of an events coordinator.
  • Use of effective and consistent assessment approaches for enhancing extension programs across the sections and PWTs.
  • Increased integration of undergraduate student opportunities within extension programming.
  • Development and coordination of relevant and timely press releases in line with faculty extension expertise from each of the sections.
  • Exploration of ways to develop and enhance relevant partnerships between university-based research, extension and outreach faculty, and to expand faculty involvement in extension.

Facilities Management

The current Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture, Plant Biology, Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology occupy office and lab space in several buildings on both the Geneva and Ithaca campuses. Additional personnel are housed in satellite facilities across the state. The teaching, research, and extension programs in these departments rely heavily on extensive field, greenhouse, and growth chamber facilities managed by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. The operation (utilities) and maintenance of these facilities is expensive and under new university financial models, those costs are budgeted as College expenses. The size, scope, and maintenance of these facilities must be sized to match faculty needs and available financial resources. It will be critical that future facilities upgrades, space consolidations, and closure of research farm facilities be conducted after careful strategic planning and evaluation by faculty and CALS facilities staff.

Under the School of Integrative Plant Science, space that is under the direct management of the current departments will continue to be managed by the Section Chairs, as will facilities managed by the Experiment Station Directors. However, in order to ensure coordinated, efficient and strategic facilities management, planning, and optimum space allocations, the Section Chairs will regularly advise and consult with  the  Director of the School on space allocation decisions. For example, when space or facilities are required for new faculty hires or expanded instructional needs, there should be a coordinated discussion of the best physical location for that program or class within the space managed by the Sections. The Director in concert with the Chair of the relevant Section, will liaison with the Directors of the two Experiment Stations and CALS Facilities personnel to provide the most efficient and coordinated use, operation and maintenance of existing facilities with

the long-term aim of maintaining the best possible building and equipment resources needed to support our programs, while simultaneously reducing the total footprint in use and cost of facilities operation and maintenance.

Budget

The Director of the School has overall budgetary responsibility. Currently the college distributes resources to the sections in three categories:

1. Formula-based operating funds: These are funds provided to academic departments based on the
number of faculty and academic staff in a department.
2. Instruction, research and extension support: These are based on historical agreements made between
the college and departments for financial support and are not formula based.
3. Indirect cost (IDC)s: 8% of indirect costs generated by faculty in a department are currently returned to
the department. The University has adopted a policy that provides for 2% of collected IDC to be
returned to the investigator provided the IDC rate is ≥ 25%. This 2% is included in the 8% returned to
departments

The Director will work with the Executive Committee to develop a unified budget that supports activities in sections and activities centered in the School.

The Director of the School will have financial resources that can be used to support new initiatives or existing programs and activities that she/he deem to have strategic importance. The resources will initially be 5% of the resources allocated to the sections by the college. The Director working with the Executive Committee will review this allocation and determine whether 5% of the total budget is appropriate. The Director should always have some discretionary resources.

The Executive Committee (EC) will be chaired by the Director and composed of the five Section Chairs and, of two ex officio members, the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the chair of the Council of Extension Leaders. The Executive Committee will be consulted by and advise the Director in matters pertaining to School function including but not limited to strategic planning, resource allocation, administrative staff assignments, disposition of new position recommendations and curriculum changes.

The Faculty Renewal Committee (FRC) will function de facto as a structural element critical to implementing School strategic planning by making recommendations for filling new professorial positions to the Executive Committee. It will be comprised of two faculty from each section and the Director will appoint a chair.

The Committee for Promotion and Tenure (CPT) will serve as an advisory committee to objectively review dossiers for a high level of readiness. The CPT and/or CPT chair will review all reappointment, promotion and tenure dossiers and provide a recommendation to the appropriate Section’s faculty. The committee will be composed of two representative tenured faculty members from each section in the School. Members of the committee will be appointed by the  Director in consultation  with section chairs and the Senior Associate Dean of CALS. Terms for CPT members will initially be for 2 or 3 years to stagger replacement of members.

Subsequent appointments will be made for 3 year terms.

The Undergraduate Committee for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will consist of faculty from the Sections and function in managing the curriculum in a dynamic fashion appropriate to serving the needs of students  as they pursue well-defined career pathways in the plant sciences, and in advising the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) who will chair the committee and report to the School Director.

The Council of Directors of Graduate Studies (DGS) will consist of the DGS’s of each graduate field that is in the School. The Director will appoint a chair for the council. The council will work to assure that the graduate fields in the school recruit the best students and that these students  are well trained and mentored to prepare them for their chosen careers.

The Council of Extension Leaders (CEL) will advise the Director on activities and initiatives that the School should undertake to sustain or improve extension and outreach programming. It will be comprised of section extension leaders and one representative from each of the extension program work teams that play significant roles in the extension programming conducted by School faculty. The Director will appoint the chair of the CEL.

Faculty hiring

A goal in creating the School of Integrative Plant Science is to coordinate and integrate strategic planning and faculty hiring in the plant sciences. The Director, in consort with the Executive Committee, will identify a process for developing and regularly updating the strategic plan for the School. An iterative process should be developed whereby the strategic plan for the School is informed by strategic planning by the sections and the sections in turn modify their plans in response to the School strategic plan. A major outcome of strategic planning is identification of faculty hiring needs. Sections will respond to the School strategic plan and their own disciplinary faculty needs and propose new faculty positions.

These positions will be prioritized by the School using the following process: Faculty position proposals will be reviewed and ultimately ranked by the Faculty Renewal Committee. This committee will be composed of ten faculty representing broad programmatic themes found among the sections. There will be two representatives from each section consisting of one senior tenure-track faculty member of outstanding stature and one junior tenure track faculty member, each appointed by the section chair, with consideration given to a section’s strategic plan (mission) regarding disciplines addressed, academic responsibilities, constituencies served, and a distribution across campuses and university holdings. The Director will appoint the chair of the Faculty Renewal Committee (FRC). Members of the committee will serve for three years with initial appointments made so that there is staggered replacement of committee members. The intent is for the committee members to serve the broad interests of the plant sciences and not to exclusively advocate for their sections.

Review will occur via a two-stage process. Sections will initially formulate position requests based on  the School strategic plan and submit these to the FRC for review. The FRC will review the suite of position requests and provide feedback to the requesting sections on how their requests  could be improved or better coordinated with other requests. Sections will revise position requests based on feedback provided by the FRC and submit formal position requests to the Director. The FRC will review and rank these requests and provide recommendations with justifications to the Director who will then submit position requests to the Dean. The FRC will make use of the following criteria for ranking position requests.

  • When a position request follows a failed nomination for tenure, the position will be refilled. However, the Section has an opportunity to, in consultation with (or under the guidance of) the Committee, to determine precisely how the position should be filled.
  • In case more searches for a specific (e.g., suitable candidate), subject re-evaluation Committee; search will
  • Position requests should be made in accordance with the college’s mission as well as the Section (included in the request package) and School strategic plans in light of position requests, departures and appointments in the last 10 years.
  • Consideration for maintaining an appropriate across campuses and expertise reflected in Section and strategic plans.
  • Strategic plans a list probable hiring facilitate planning immediate review
  • Position requests should have an appropriate balance of education (classroom or extension) and research responsibilities; neither research nor education should be an overriding consideration with lackluster attention paid to the complementary part of the position.
  • Teaching responsibilities identified and linked established anticipated curricular Priority given filling deficiencies in core curricula. Evidence provided a teaching need met existing faculty members (adjunct, courtesy faculty).
  • Extension articulated a and their identified.
  • The research program have and a vision for faculty success.
  • Consideration given a role in advancing diversifying scientific expertise in plant sciences. include facilitate development a scientific discipline achieve scientific prominence within existing
  • When useful, small clusters of hires in particular subject areas that potentially span sections (including departments outside plant sciences) should be considered.

The Faculty Renewal Committee will also be involved in the selection of search committees. The Committee will approve section search committees and at least one member of the FRC will serve on the search committee.

Faculty mentoring/promotion & tenure/promotion to professor

Faculty mentoring, tenure and promotion, and promotion to professor will be a shared responsibility of the School of Integrative Plant Science and the Sections. The processes underlying reappointment to assistant professor, promotion to associate professor with tenure, and promotion to full professor are distinct and are described separately, beginning with the first step.

Reappointment to Assistant Professor

The SIPS Director and the Chair of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure (CPT) will review dossiers and provide a statement to the Section Chair prior to the section discussing the document. This will enable concerns (if any) to be transmitted by the relevant Section Chair for specific consideration by the Section faculty.

Following discussion and voting by the Section faculty, the Section Chair provides a recommendation to the SIPS Director, who, in consultation with the CPT Chair, makes a recommendation to the Senior Associate Dean. This procedure is intended to provide efficient participation of School leadership in the reappointment process and serves as a prelude to the more extensive engagement of the Section faculty and the School faculty (via the CPT) in the tenure and promotion review process.

The procedure and timeline for reappointment of assistant professors is summarized in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Reappointment process for assistant professors.

Section Chairs will manage preparation of the dossier by working with the candidate to develop the necessary data and documents.

The CPT Chair will review the dossier, in the current state of completion and in accordance with the timeline in Figure 1, and provide a statement to the Section Chair prior to the section discussing the document. If the CPT Chair is in the same section as the candidate being considered for reappointment, another member from outside the candidate’s section will review the dossier.

Upon receipt of the statement from the CPT Chair, tenured faculty in the section will review and discuss the case and convey to the Section Chair their vote.

The Section Chair will convey, via a letter, a recommendation to the Director. The Section Chair’s letter will become part of the dossier.

The School Director, in consultation with CPT chair, will provide a letter to the Dean on whether the candidate should be reappointed. The School Director’s letter will become part of the dossier.

In cases where there is disagreement between the Section Chair’s recommendation and the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should meet with the Director to discuss the basis for the conflicting opinions. If, after having done so, the Section Chair still opposes the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should summarize her/his arguments in a letter to the Dean with a copy to the Director. The Dean should include this correspondence with the dossier as it goes to the ad hoc committee. This is more or less an appeals process, but one that accesses the Deans, preserving the integrity of the sections in appropriate balance with the School, and correctly gives the impression that both sides of the argument will be fairly represented throughout the remaining process.

The standard appeals process for faculty members begins if the Director does not recommend tenure to the Dean.

Administrative Guidelines

See Figure 1 above for dossier review procedure and timeline.

Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure

The goal of the tenure and promotion review process is to promote excellence across all of the plant sciences. The process incorporates the recognition that management of mentoring and preparation of the tenure review dossier are best done by knowledgeable colleagues within the Section. The process is summarized in Fig. 2.

Figure 2. Tenure and promotion review process for assistant professor

A standing CPT committee as defined prior will participate in the review process.

Section Chairs will manage preparation of the dossier by working with the candidate to develop the necessary data and documents and by soliciting external reviews. Section faculty and the CPT will be consulted for suggestions of external reviewers.

The CPT will review the dossier, in the current state of completion and in accordance with the timeline in Figure 2. The CPT chair will provide a written recommendation to the tenured faculty of the section that conveys the opinion(s) of the committee. If there are divergent opinions, both perspectives should be presented with the majority perspective identified.

Upon receipt of the recommendation from the CPT, tenured faculty in the section will review and discuss the dossier and provide individual letters to the Section Chair that convey vote and rational.

Following receipt of letters from tenured faculty, the Section Chair will convey, via a letter, a recommendation to the Director. The Section Chair’s letter will become part of the dossier.

The Director of the School will prepare a letter to the Dean on whether the candidate should be awarded tenure and promotion. The School Director’s letter will become part of the dossier.

In cases where there is disagreement between the Section Chair’s recommendation and the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should meet with the Director to discuss the basis for the conflicting opinions. If, after having done so, the Section Chair still opposes the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should summarize her/his arguments in a letter to the Dean with a copy  to the Director. The  Dean should include this correspondence with the dossier as it goes to the ad hoc committee. This is more or less an appeals process, but one that accesses the Deans, preserving the integrity of the sections inappropriate balance with the School, and correctly gives the impression that both sides of the argument will be fairly represented throughout the remaining process.

The standard appeals process for faculty members begins if the Director does not recommend tenure to the Dean.

Administrative Guidelines

See Figure 2 above for dossier review procedure and timeline.

Tenure Home

Faculty are affiliated with specific Sections although faculty are tenured in the School. If tenure is denied, a position in the affiliated Section where the failed tenure occurred will receive the highest priority in the coordinated hiring process.

Promotion to Full Professor

The CPT will have a role in promotions to full professor and the process will be more streamlined in comparison to the role in evaluating promotions awarding tenure. For promotion to professor, the CPT will follow the process described in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Process for promotion to full professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science. A standing CPT committee as defined prior will participate in the review process.

The Section Chair, CPT Chair and the School Director will assess readiness and timing of the proposed promotion.

Section Chairs will manage preparation of the dossier by working with the candidate to develop the necessary data and documents and by soliciting external reviews and consult with section faculty and the CPT Chair (who may consult with CPT members, as needed) to identify appropriate reviewers.

Section tenured faculty will review the complete dossier and provide individual letters to the Section Chair that convey vote and rational.

Following receipt of letters from tenured faculty, the Section Chair will convey, via a letter, a recommendation to the Director. The Section Chair’s letter will become part of the dossier.

The Director of the School, in consultation with the CPT Chair will prepare a letter to the Dean on whether the candidate should be promoted to full professor. The School Director’s letter will become part of the dossier.

In cases where there is disagreement between the Section Chair’s recommendation and the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should meet with the Director to discuss the basis for the conflicting opinions. If, after having done so, the Section Chair still opposes the Director’s recommendation, the Section Chair should summarize her/his arguments in a letter to the Dean with a copy to the Director. The Dean should include this correspondence with the dossier as it goes to the ad hoc committee. This is more or less an appeals process, but one that accesses the Deans, preserving the integrity of the sections in appropriate balance with the School, and correctly gives the impression that both sides of the argument will be fairly represented throughout the remaining process.

The standard appeals process for faculty members begins if the Director does not recommend tenure to the Dean.

Administrative Guidelines

See Figure 3 above for dossier review procedure and timeline. Tenure Home Faculty are affiliated with specific Sections although faculty are tenured in the School. If tenure is denied, a position in the affiliated Section where the failed tenure occurred will receive the highest priority in the coordinated hiring process.

Phased Involvement of CPT in Promotion Processes

The CPT’s involvement in promotions to tenure, as summarized in Figure 2, will begin with any untenured faculty that are hired after the founding of the School, 6 June 2014.

The CPT ’involvement in promotions to full professor, summarized in Figure 3, will be phased into use as current associate professors in the School become eligible for further promotion.

Tenure Process for faculty hired as Associate Professor with tenure received from another institution

This process will follow the guidelines for promotion to full professor.

Tenure process for faculty hired as Associate Professor without tenure

This process will follow the guidelines for promotion to associate professor with tenure. Must submit dossier within 5 years of their hire for tenure to be considered.

Senior Lecturer – Joint appointments

Candidate sends request for joint appointment with a particular section to the section chair. Requests for a SIPS-wide joint appointment are sent to the SIPS director. Requests should include a statement of interest in starting/continuing an appointment, a brief explanation of benefits to both the unit and the candidate moving forward and a CV.Requests for a joint appointment with a particular section are subject to a vote by the faculty in that section. Requests for a SIPS-wide joint appointment are subject to a vote by the five section chairs. If the outcome of the vote is positive, a letter of support is sent to the Senior Associate Dean requesting approval of the joint appointment by the section chair for section joint appointments and by the director for SIPS-wide joint appointments. The support letter should include the proposed start date, the date the faculty vote concluded and the results of the vote.After approval, a draft appointment letter is sent to the Senior Associate Dean for approval. The letter should outline expectations and effort of the appointment. After approval, the letter is sent to the candidate with a copy to the supervisor in the home-based unit.

Reappointment/Promotion of Lecturers, Research Associates and Extension Associates

Administrative Guidelines

Appendix A for dossier review procedure and timeline - awaiting table upload

 

Our History

Cornell University was founded in 1865, and the doors of Morrill Hall (the first building constructed on the Ithaca campus) first opened in 1868. The history of plant science and the land-grant mission trace back to the opening of the university,with George Caldwell directing groundbreaking research in soil fertility in 1868, and the founding of the Cornell Herbarium in 1869. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, Isaac Roberts initiated some of the first work on enhancing crop production and began‘resident instruction in agricultural practices’ (an early form of extension). In 1885, J.C. Arthur became Cornell’s first recipient of a Doctor of Science degree, using Koch’s Postulates to demonstrate Erwinia amylovora’s role in fire blight. Liberty Hyde Bailey became the first Chair of Horticulture in 1888, and after becoming Dean in 1903, he established the Department of Plant Breeding in 1907, and the Department of Botany in 1913. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (renamed Cornell AgriTech in 2018) was established in 1880 and became part of Cornell University in 1923. The rich and diverse history of plant science at Cornell has a unique attribute plant science departments involved in a spectrum of activities from the most fundamental to applied have resided within CALS since its founding, combining research, teaching, and the land-grant mission. Learn more about the history of Cornell CALS.

History of our component disciplines

The history of the Section of Soil and Crop Sciences (SCS) is traced back to the arrival of George C. Caldwell in 1868 and Isaac P. Roberts in 1874, prior to the establishment of the College of Agriculture. Caldwell performed groundbreaking research in soil fertility and plant analysis, while Roberts initiated experiments on production of wheat, corn, and oats. Resident instruction in agricultural practices and lectures to farmer groups (an early form of extension) were also initiated at that time. In 1903, the Department of Agronomy and the Department of Agricultural Chemistry were established as the first units of the then-new New York State College of Agriculture. For over 100 years, the department has been an intellectual leader in crop and soil sciences and has played a central role related to the mission of the College of Agriculture (now Agriculture and Life Sciences). Dr. Marlin Cline, Chair of the Department from 1963 - 1970, wrote a History of Agronomy at Cornell that includes information from 1868 - 1980.

Much of American research in soil and crop science had its origins in studies of agriculture at Cornell, and it was strongly involved in the establishment of the American Society of Agronomy and subsequently the Soil Science and Crop Science Societies of America. In the first decades, research emphasis was on crop production research. In 1904, soil science rapidly developed with fundamental research becoming an important component. An additional area of soils activity was established in 1905 with the addition of a soil survey leader. In 1907, construction began with the Cornell lysimeters, which were the focus of much of the research through the 1920's. Many publications resulted from this work and dealt mainly with the losses of inorganic plant nutrients in drainage water and uptake of nutrients by crops under various treatments. This work established a precedent and standard of excellence that influenced many modern research efforts to measure, interpret and predict the fate of chemicals in soils and their delivery to water. The department was also among the first to establish overseas research programs, gaining a preeminent international reputation in agronomy. The changing priorities of society during the 1960's led to the growth of research on environmental and health-related problems along with emphasis on soil resources, forage crops and weeds that continued through the 1970's and 1980's. Since 2006, the department has become an integral part of new curricula in Agricultural Sciences and Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, which provide undergraduate students with integrated and diverse opportunities for studies. In 2014, the department joined with four other CALS departments to form the the School of Integrative Plant Science, and changed its name to the Section of Soil and Crop Sciences (SCS).

SCS was the first agronomy department in the nation to offer graduate education, and has trained many of the country’s first crop and soil scientists. There have been over 1,200 Masters and Doctoral degrees granted in soil and crop sciences since 1888. Many of its former graduates hold leadership positions at academic, research and governmental institutions around the world. Two recent World Food Prize laureates (Pedro Sanchez, 2002, and Colin McClung, 2006) received degrees from the department.

Research Farm History

Musgrave Research Farm

The Musgrave Research Farm provides productive arable land for applied agricultural research, teaching and extension. The farm is 35 miles north of Cornell's Ithaca campus, in the southern portion of Cayuga County, in the township of Ledyard, on the Poplar Ridge road two miles east of Aurora and Cayuga Lake. There are three annual field days held here each summer: the Small Grain Management Field Day; Weed Days; and the Musgrave Farm Field Day. The farm is currently managed by the Agricultural Experiment Station; please visit their website for further information about the farm.

Purchased in 1949 by the Agronomy Department for experiments on soils representative of the highly productive areas of the lime belt of the Ontario Plain. Years of cash crop farming and inadequate fertilization had left the soils in a depleted condition although fairly uniform in structure and nutrient levels. The original farm purchase included a house built in 1798 by Benjamin and Mary Howland which was the site of the first Friends (Quakers) county meeting in 1799. One mile east is the house of Jethro Wood who, in 1819, patented the first moldboard plow with replaceable parts. He married Benjamin Howland's daughter, Sylvia, and moved with the Howland family to Aurora.

Caldwell Field Research Complex

The Caldwell Field Research Complex is located just east of the Cornell Veterinary School and is the center of operations for field research conducted by Soil and Crop Sciences investigators. The soil here is Williamson fine sandy loams deposited as glacial till which is unique to this research site as compared to other Cornell farms. The area provides 10 acres within walking distance of central campus for educational demonstrations and research. This area includes a complex of buildings including Leland Laboratory which has offices for field technicians, space and equipment for handling supplies, seed and harvested material from field research, and a mechanical shop for equipment repair or modification. The area also includes Muenscher Laboratory which has lab facilities for wet-chemistry and a classroom. Drying ovens for plant material are located in an adjacent building, and field machinery is maintained and operated by the Farm Services unit of Cornell Experiment Station.

Two plant species collections are maintained at the complex for teaching: the Weed Garden, which is adjacent to Muenscher Lab, displays a diverse array of the most common and damaging weeds and poisonous plants, and the Crop Garden, which is on the north-eastern edge of Caldwell Field, displays the thirty most important crop plants of the world. Both have signs labeling the specimens and information brochures.

In 1903, land was acquired and named after George C. Caldwell, the first full-time professor hired by Cornell University in 1868 to work on agricultural chemistry. In 1956-57 a building left at the Sampson Naval base on Seneca Lake was purchased. The building became known as the "Gun Shed" with a greenhouse added shortly after. In 1967 the Gun Shed was destroyed by fire resulting in the loss of invaluable records, equipment and reference soil samples. In 1969-70 the current fieldhouse (Leland Lab), weed science laboratory (Muenscher Lab) and adjoining greenhouse were built, and named after Emmons W. Leland, the supervisor of Agronomy field experiments for 46 years, and Walter C. Muenscher, Professor in the College of Agriculture from 1921-1954 who worked on weed science for 38 years.

Willsboro Research Farm

This 351.12 acre farm provides land representative of the Lake Champlain-St. Lawrence River valleys for applied research, teaching and extension and is located 1.5 miles north of Willsboro at the entrance to the Willsboro Point peninsula with Lake Champlain bordering to the east. The elevations obtained from the topographic maps of the U.S. Geological Survey range from a low of 100 feet at the shoreline of Lake Champlain to a high of 240. The farm is on the gently rolling lacustrine plain adjacent to Lake Champlain. The soils on the Willsboro farm were developed in glacial till (Bombay), deltaic or glacial lake sands (Stafford and Cosad), and glacial lake clays (Kingsbury). The farm is currently managed by the Agricultural Experiment Station; please visit their website for further information about the farm.

In 1982, E. Vreeland Baker, a retired independent investor in oil and gas exploration, donated the Willsboro farm to the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Mr. Baker grew up on the farm and eventually attended Cornell, graduating in 1923. During his childhood, the Willsboro farm, then known as the Baker farm, was used by his grandfather primarily for the production of apples.

Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology has roots in Geneva and Ithaca, originally two separate departments that merged in 2010 to form a single institution for the study of plant disease. Activity in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at each of these campuses began in the late 19th century.

Plant Pathology Photography Site

The Plant Pathology photography site contains images captured by a succession of four Cornell science photographers over the past 100 years. These galleries span a period of great advances in plant pathology -- the study of plant diseases -- and put on display the photographic methods that are central to the discipline.

Timeline

1868
The history of plant pathology at Cornell began when the university opened its doors in 1868. A.N. Prentiss, a mycologist who held the titles of Professor of Botany, Superintendent of Grounds, and Director of Manual Labor, offered a course titled "Parasitic Fungi" that first year. Some variation of the course has been offered ever since on the Ithaca campus.

1880
The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was established at Geneva by an act of the New York state legislature with the mandate to promote agriculture in New York through scientific investigation.

1882
The doors officially opened to the Geneva agricultural station, the sixth facility of its kind in the nation. The station included 125 acres of land, a laboratory building, living quarters for researchers and several farm buildings. It employed four faculty members and one staff member who acted as the janitor, stable boy, receptionist and maintenance man.

1884
Joseph Charles Arthur was hired as a botanist to study plant diseases in Geneva, making him the first plant pathologist hired by a state agricultural experiment station in the United States. 

1886
One of Cornell's first Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degrees was granted to J.C. Arthur for his work on the fire blight disease of pear.

1906
H. H. Whetzel is appointed assistant professor and head of Botany in the recently established New York State College of Agriculture. 

1907
Whetzel establishes the Ithaca department.  At his request, the name of the department was changed to Plant Pathology and Whetzel was advanced to Professor. Several other departments of plant pathology were established in 1907 in the United States, each claiming to be first.  If the Cornell department was not the first, it was certainly among the first. 

1922
L.M. Massey became head of a plant pathology department in Ithaca, which had grown to eight faculty members who had attained a worldwide reputation for research on fungi and plant diseases and for training students.

1923
The Geneva Station officially became a unit of the College of Agriculture at Cornell University.  At that time professional staff at Geneva became members of the faculty, but it was not until 1943 that they received professor titles.   

1933
The president of Cornell University officially approved the Geneva Station "subject-matter units" being designated as departments.

1950
G.C. Kent became chair of the Ithaca department. By the mid-1950's, demands on the faculty had grown such that there were 22 professors focusing on individual or related crops or pathogen types.  Among many significant events in Kent's term was the recruitment of D.F. Bateman (1970), the first person hired to study the fundamental nature of pathogenesis rather than to work on a specific crop or group of pathogens.

1973
Faculty members in Geneva participate in an interdisciplinary team to develop the Integrated Pest Management Program, which has resulted in a 30 to 80 percent reduction in pesticide use on crops in New York through the use of disease forecasting, insect monitoring, and the conscious implementation of cultural and biological controls.

1998
Geneva virologist Dennis Gonsalves developed and released two new papaya cultivars genetically engineered to resist Papaya ringspot virus. Dr. Gonsalves used the gene gun, also developed at Geneva, to "vaccinate" the plants. All previous worldwide efforts to obtain resistant varieties had failed, and these new lines were credited for saving the $47 million Hawaiian papaya industry from ruin.  For this work, Dr. Gonsalves was awarded the 2002 von Humboldt Award for Agriculture, one of the world's most prestigious agricultural science awards.  

2007
The departments on both campuses changed their name from the Department of Plant Pathology to the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology. The new name is a more accurate reflection of modern research and teaching than runs the gamut from applied work on diagnosing and managing plant diseases to the molecular bases of interactions between plants and their pathogens and symbionts.

2010
The Departments of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology in Ithaca and Geneva merge to create a single academic powerhouse for the study of the causes and management of plant disease and the fundamental interactions between plants and microbes. The newly-formed department includes 38 faculty members and 84 support staff on two campuses.

2014
Five departments at Cornell – Plant Biology, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Crop and Soil Sciences, and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology  –  were integrated into one administrative unit.  The department name was changed to the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science.

History of plant pathology in Ithaca by G. C. Kent and A. G. Newhall.

1880 to 2010: The administrative route from an independent plant pathology unit at Geneva to integration with Ithaca---

Jim Hunter

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, often called the Geneva Station, was established by the state legislature in 1880 as an independent institution to promote agriculture in New York through scientific research. In 1923 the Geneva Station officially became a unit of the College of Agriculture. At that time “professional staff” at Geneva became members of the faculty but it was not until 1943 that they received professor titles. Ten years later the president of Cornell officially approved the Station “subject-matter units” being designated as departments. Finally, in 2010 the Department of Plant Pathology at Geneva joined with the department at Ithaca in the newly named Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.

1884

J. C. Arthur was hired at Geneva as a botanist to study plant diseases, making him the first “plant pathologist” hired by a state agricultural experiment station in the United States. Notably, two years later he received the first doctorate in “the Sciences” granted by Cornell University. Arthur conducted pioneering research on fire blight, but left after four years and later became famous for his work on rust diseases.

1894


F. C. Stewart was hired as a mycologist and assigned to a substation on Long Island that had been established by the director of the Geneva Station, which in 1946 was administratively shifted to Cornell’s College of Agriculture in Ithaca. He transferred to Geneva in 1898 to become Head of the Division of Botany, a position he held for 38 years. He is best remembered for discovering a disease of corn called Stewart’s Wilt.

1936


The Division of Botany was divided into two divisions, with one being the Division of Plant Pathology, with O. A. Reinking as Head. Some of the research responsibilities were transferred to the Department of Plant Pathology in Ithaca at that time, with major emphasis at Geneva remaining diseases of fruit crops and processing vegetables.

1936-1944


W. H. Rankin was hired and his limited success in controlling mosaic disease of raspberry plants by rouging led him to conclude that breeding for resistance held the most potential. Breeding for resistance to diseases of fruit and vegetable crops later became an important thrust of programs at Geneva that continues to the present.
During this period J. M. Hamilton began developing laboratory facilities to determine the “practical mode of action” of fungicides and best usage practices to control diseases of tree fruits, in addition to carrying out extensive field tests that led to fungicide recommendations used by tree-fruit growers throughout the Northeastern U. S. He saw the beginning of the era of organic fungicides and he, and later M. Szkolnik, carried on this work for many years.

In 1939 J. G. Horsfall resigned from Geneva to join the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station after a remarkable ten years of research during which he developed fungicide seed treatments. He later became director of the Connecticut Station, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and co-author of the five-volume publication, Plant Pathology: an Advanced treatise.
G. L McNew was also a plant pathologist at Geneva during Horsfall’s time there. He left in 1944 and from 1949 until 1974, he was Managing Director and Distinguished Scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute, which is now located on the Cornell campus in Ithaca.

1968


The department at Geneva moved into three floors of a new research facility with modern, well-equipped laboratories including electron microscopes, growth chambers and walk-in mist chambers, as well as spacious greenhouses attached to the building. Following this, several plant pathologists were hired to develop research programs using emerging technologies, and programs began to shift from a crop focus to a pathogen-discipline focus directed toward understanding and managing diseases of fruit and vegetable crops.

1973


A four-person steering committee involving faculty from both Geneva and Ithaca, including J. E. Hunter, chairman of the Department of Plant Pathology at Geneva, established the framework for Cornell’s Integrated Pest Management Program. The extensive evaluation of fungicides for diseases of fruit and vegetable crops that had been carried out over many years and a long history of research on the biology of fungal pathogens of these crops by pathologist at Geneva and Ithaca were essential components of advisory systems used by the IPM program to increase the likelihood that pesticides were used judiciously and integrated with other control practices when feasible.

1968- Present: Contributions by senior faculty


The hiring of new faculty and the availability of modern research technologies and facilities have resulted in some significant contributions made by plant pathologists at Geneva, of which a few examples follow:
R. M. Gilmer was co-author of a study that demonstrated pollen transmission of necrotic ringspot and prune dwarf viruses in sour cherry trees, which helped to explain the rapid spread of these viruses in commercial orchards. His research on virus diseases of grapevines and his leadership resulted in the establishment of a grapevine disease certification program that reduced the chance of grape growers buying virus-infected plants.

In 1969, W. T. Schroeder and R. Provvidenti reported what is probably the first known occurrence of resistance to a fungicide, in this case benomyl, by the fungus causing powdery mildew of cucurbits. Shortly thereafter M. Szkolnik and J. D. Gilpatrick, discovered that the fungus causing apple scab disease had become resistant to the fungicide dodine (Cyprex). These discoveries opened a new era of concern as more cases of resistance to modern organic fungicides began to occur worldwide.

Beginning in 1970 H. S. Aldwinckle initiated a forty-year cooperative program with tree-fruit breeders using traditional breeding methods that led to the development of several apple cultivars and rootstocks with multiple disease resistance. Importantly, he also showed that by using molecular methods and a transformation system he developed, cultivars can be genetically modified to be resistant to fire blight and apple scab diseases without losing their unique characteristics.

From 1968 until 1995, R. Provvidenti discovered and characterized 70 resistance factors that were singly inherited (dominant or recessive) in cultivated vegetables and related wild species to 21 viruses causing diseases of 17 species of vegetables. Many of these genes have been incorporated by breeders in public ad private institutions in the United States and abroad into new cultivars.
D. Gonsalves used mutation technology to produce a mild strain of the ringspot virus that destroys papaya trees and inserted some of the mild strain’s genetic material into the DNA of papaya using the gene gun developed at Geneva. Regenerated plants carrying this modified genetic material were resistant to the ringspot disease. Through Gonsalves’ persistent effect over many years, the federal government approved these genetically modified papaya fruit being marketed commercial—the first instance of this for a fruit crop. Gonsalves’ efforts saved the papaya industry of Hawaii and this approach to modifying fruit crops is now being used by others in an attempt to save other fruit crops where no source of resistance has been found in nature and no alternative control measures are available.

A sequence of discoveries at Geneva led to improved understanding and control of powdery mildew of grapevines, the most important disease of the world’s most widely grown crop. These include R. C. Pearson and D. M. Gadoury discovering that cleistothecia are the primary source of inoculum causing this disease; R. C. Seem and Gadoury showing that the period of susceptibility of grape berries is much shorter than previously thought; and W. F. Wilcox determining that pruning practices can alter the microclimate in the grape canopy enough to have a big impact on disease development. These discoveries have been confirmed in many places and are thought to influence control practices widely.

H. C. Hoch used nano- and microfabrication technologies to study how pathogenic bacteria and fungi interact with their hosts. He discovered that several species of fungi respond to topographical signals on leaf surfaces for growth orientation and initiation of appressoria. He also used micro-fabricated artificial xylem vessels to study how bacteria grow, migrate and develop biofilms.

H. R. Dillard learned that the fungus causing anthracnose disease on tomato fruit can also cause a serious disease on roots, and that small sclerotia produced by this fungus can survive in soil for over five years. She also learned that flee beetles transmit the pathogen causing alternaria leaf spot of cabbage and that wounds made by tools and insects release plant nutrients needed for Sclerotinia sclerotiorum to infect cabbage leaves.

Since 1972 G.S. Abawi has carried out a broad-based research program on soil-borne diseases of vegetables. He has concluded that using good soil management practices to improve “soil health” is an effective management strategy. This has led to his participation in a Cornell multidisciplinary extension team that conducts extension education programs about good soil-management practices throughout the northeastern U. S. He also has studied fungicide treatment of vegetable seeds and diseases caused by nematodes and their control.

T. C. Burr began a program on bacterial diseases in 1975 and showed that the bacterium causing crown gall of grapevines and necrosis of grape roots can survive in grape tissue debris, in wild grapesvines and in propagating material. He also showed that antibiotic resistance to the pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, is transferred via a plasmid between bacteria.

D. A. Rosenberger conducted studies each spring in eastern New York to provide tree-fruit growers with advice for controlling diseases of these crops, and he conducted research leading to operators of fruit storage facilities to use improved sanitation practices that limited diseases that can develop in storage. He also studied some unusual fruit diseases, including some that were exacerbated by use of the herbicide glyphosate.

J. E. Hunter demonstrated that drop nozzles on spray booms direct fungicide sprays to blossoms inside the canopy of snap bean plants, which is where initial infection
occurs that leads to white mold disease. Other field studies revealed the time limit for systemic fungicides to be applied after ascospores initiate the infection process on bean blossoms. In cooperation with a plant breeder, he developed a technique to detect partial or low levels of resistance to white mold and released lines with this characteristic to commercial breeders.

Programmatic shifts at Geneva from 1884 to 2010

Before the 1970s, faculty at Geneva held 100 percent research appointments although most provided considerable support for growers of fruit and vegetable crops. Gradually some professors were assigned a percentage of their time to the extension function, with all of the fruit pathology extension responsibility being shifted from the Ithaca campus to Geneva in the mid 1970s. In 1984, for the first time, a professor was hired at Geneva with a significant commitment of time to develop an extension program for diseases of vegetable crops.

In 1990, the director at Geneva, J. E. Hunter, a plant pathologist and former chair of the department, wrote a policy stating that in some situations it might be desirable for faculty at Geneva to become involved with teaching courses on the main Cornell campus. Today a course in field plant pathology is led by a professor at Geneva and another professor has occasionally taught a course in nematology. And, the number of plant pathology graduate students doing research at Geneva has increased from one in 1973 to around 20 when H. S. Aldwinckle was department chair. Also, faculty from both campuses serve on the curriculum and graduate student selection committees, which further strengthens the involvement of faculty at Geneva with the educational mission.
The gradual involvement with faculty at Geneva in all three functional areas of college programs--research, extension and education--has helped smooth the path for merging the two departments of plant pathology at both campuses shortly after each changed their name to the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.

The Department of Plant Biology has a long and distinguished history characterized by faculty and graduates who have made major contributions to science, higher education, and public policy over the past 150 years. Notable faculty members and graduates include, among others:

  • Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), who made seminal contributions to the environmental movement in biology, established a model interface between basic and applied sciences that would characterize Cornell for generations and lead to breakthroughs in genetics on a monumental scale during the twentieth century.  For more information: Landmarks and Milestones in American Plant Biology: The Cornell Connection.
     
  • William R. Dudley (1849-1911) who obtained a B.S. and M.S. from Cornell, was an assistant professor at Cornell from 1877 until 1891.  He taught classes in botany, horticulture and mycology.  Dudley published “The Cayuga Flora” in 1886, and became professor of Botany at Stanford in 1892.

  • Karl McKay Wiegand (1873-1943) received both his B.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell. He was known as a taxonomist and for his encyclopedic memory of the plants of the Cayuga Flora. Wiegand served as chair of botany for 28 years and as president of the Botanical Society of America in 1939.

  • Walter Conrad Muenscher (1891-1963) received a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1921. He collected and identified thousands of herbaceous, woody, and aquatic plants.  He is probably best known as a weed scientist, although he also wrote important books about aquatic plants, poisonous plants, and weeds.
     
  • Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) received three degrees from Cornell: a B.S. in 1923, a M.S. in 1925, and a Ph.D. in 1927, the second two degrees in Botany. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Nobel Laureate. McClintock is best known for her research with transposable elements in Zea mays.
     
  • George Wells Beadle earned his Ph.D. in 1930, was a Nobel Laureate, and became President of the University of Chicago.
     
  • Harlan Parker Banks (1913-1998) obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1940. Banks was known for his teaching skills and his seminal studies of the Devonian flora.  Banks served as president of the Botanical Society of America (1979) and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Botany at Cornell

1865
Cornell University is founded.

1868
Cornell University opens.
Original Department of Botany is founded (1868-1922).
Albert N. Prentiss, becomes head of the Department of Botany (1868-1896).

1870
Original Department of Botany Herbarium is established, based on collections of Horace Mann, Jr.
George F. Atkinson, is head of the Department of Botany (1896-1918).

1904
Cornell University College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) is established, and the Department of Botany, including its herbarium, is housed in CAS.
New York State Legislature establishes the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell (NYSCA).
Liberty Hyde Bailey becomes the first Dean of NYSCA (1903-1913).

1907
L. H. Bailey establishes the Department of Plant Breeding at NYSCA.
L. H. Bailey establishes the Department of Plant Physiology at NYSCA (1907-1912).

1913
L. H. Bailey establishes the new Department of Botany at NYSCA (1913-1964).
Karl M. Wiegand, becomes head of the new Department of Botany (1913-1941).
Department of Plant Physiology is fused with the recently founded Department of Botany.
Willard W. Rowlee, becomes head of the Department of Botany (1918-1922).

1921-22
The original Department of Botany (in the College of Arts & Sciences) is closed.
The College of Arts & Sciences Herbarium is joined with NYSCA Department of Botany Herbarium to form CU Herbarium.

1935
L.H. Bailey Hortorium Herbarium (BH) is established as an independent unit of NYSCA.

1951
Department of Botany (CU) herbarium is renamed Wiegand Herbarium.

1964
Division of Biological Sciences (DBS) is established within NYSCA (1964-1999).

1965
Section of Genetics, Development, and Physiology (GDP) is established within DBS from parts of the Departments of Botany, Zoology and Plant Breeding (1965-1977).
The Wiegand Herbarium becomes and independent unit within NYSCA, with R.T. Clausen as Curator (1965-1977).
The Laboratory of Cell Physiology, Growth, & Development becomes an independent unit within NYSCA, with F.C. Steward as Head (1965-1973).

1971
NYSCA renamed College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell (CALS).

1977
GDP is renamed to Section of Botany, Genetics, & Development (BGD) (1977-1980).
The Bailey Hortorium Herbarium (BH) and Wiegand Herbarium (CU) merge, staying as an independent unit within CALS-DBS (1977-1999).

1980
The Section of Botany, Genetics, & Development (BGD) is divided into a Section of Plant Biology and a Section of Genetics and Development (1980-1999).

1999
The Division of Biological Sciences and all its sections dissolve and re-organize into several departments.
The current Department of Plant Biology is established by joining the former Section of Plant Biology with the L.H. Bailey Hortorium, with W.L. Crepet as Chair.

2001
The Genomics Initiative hires new faculty, establishes proteomics, and builds Weill Hall (2008).

2013
Plant Biology celebrates its centennial in June 2013 with a weekend of talks, tours, and social gatherings.

2014
Plant Biology joins the newly created School of Integrative Plant Science along with Soil and Crop Sciences, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.

For more details, see the following references:

Cobb, E.D., 150 Years of Botany at Cornell: A history of botany and plant biology.  Department of Plant Biology, Ithaca, NY.  2013.

Kass, L. B. and Cobb, E. Landmarks and Milestones in American Plant Biology: The Cornell Connection. Plant Science Bulletin. 53(3): 90-101.

Founded in 1907 by Liberty Hyde Bailey, Plant Breeding and Genetics is home to a lengthy and distinguished tradition that includes Nobel Prize winners George W. Beadle and Barbara McClintock. The department’s legacy of pioneering work was solidly established during the 1920s - 1940s, a period regarded by many as the “Golden Era of Genetics.” During these important years, a remarkable number of great scientists and leaders in the field of genetics emerged from the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell.

Cornell continues to build on its legacy of leading edge efforts to link genomics and breeding. One of only a few academic institutions training students in plant breeding today, our work is informed by global perspectives coupled with local action to address issues of sustainability and economic viability.

A Centennial History

On the occasion of the department's centennial, Royse P. Murphy and Lee B. Kass prepared a 179-page account of the history of Plant Breeding at Cornell University.

The current Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Sciences continues a storied tradition encompassing numerous units that have merged to form a unified team pursuing basic and applied research in fruit and vegetable production, ornamental horticulture, floriculture, turfgrass science, post-harvest technologies and other horticultural pursuits. Some histories include:

In addition to the pioneering horticultural work pursued by scientists in varous departments and units on the Ithaca campus, many advances were also made at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (now Cornell AgriTech) in Geneva, N.Y. 

Some histories:

See also: