Faculty Elected Trustee - Spring 2018
April 17, 2018
Voting Begins - April 17, 2018 at 8:00am
Voting Ends - April 28, 2018 at 12:00pm
Meet the Candidates
Robert (Bob) Buhrman (rab8), Engineering
Robert “Bob” Buhrman has had a long association with Cornell University, and currently is the John Edson Sweet Memorial Professor of Engineering in the School of Applied and Engineering Physics. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Buhrman has been a recipient of the Dorothy and Fred Chau Teaching Award from the College of Engineering, a faculty mentor for two Merrill Presidential Scholars, and has supervised the thesis research of 54 PhD graduates and the post-graduate research of 18 post-doctoral scholars. He served as Director of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics from 1988 to 1998, and again in 2000. Buhrman then served as the founding Director of the Center for Nanoscale Systems in Information Technologies, a National Science Foundation supported multidisciplinary research center at Cornell from 2001-2012, and has benefited from an extended involvement as a faculty member, team leader, and administrator with the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Cornell Nanoscale Facility. Buhrman recently served as the Senior Vice Provost for Research from August 2007 until July 2017.
Cornell University is a distinctive institution that aspires to play an essential and enduring role in sculpting the future, with its faculty making unique, impactful contributions to advanced education, research and scholarship that are widely recognized and of global importance. It has been my privilege to be a member of Cornell’s faculty and your colleague for many years. During my service as Senior Vice Provost for Research and hence as a member of the provost’s staff under three provosts and two interim provosts, I obtained a comprehensive understanding of how major decisions are made at the leadership level of the University, of the role that the Board of Trustees fulfills in reviewing and approving such decisions, and of the various methods by which that fundamental oversight responsibility by the Board is executed in practice. I have also come to understand why faculty input can often appear reactive, disparate and after the fact, and hence ineffectual, and to recognize the means by which faculty input on major decisions might be effectively provided, given a strong faculty consensus.
The Cornell Board of Trustees comprises more than 60 members representing multiple stakeholders and constituencies, including the faculty. Thus it is certainly challenging for any one trustee who is not a member of the Board’s core leadership to materially influence matters. However, a faculty trustee, in particular, can ask focused questions at critical moments on issues that are outside the direct experience of most Board members and deliver information to other Board members that might better inform decision making, especially in areas concerning academic and research policies, the efficient support of faculty scholarship and research activities, and the effective pursuit of academic excellence. A faculty trustee can also serve as a direct communication channel between the faculty and the Board, whenever there is a broadly based opinion or concern to convey. Should I be elected as the next Faculty Trustee, I commit to do my very best to systematically obtain faculty input and to convey it to the Board on the important issues that come before it, and, to the extent possible in that role, fully utilize my experience and knowledge of Cornell to help advance the future success of the University.
Melissa Hines (mah11), Chemistry
To the bewilderment of friends and family, I left the Lone Star state after high school to attend a school no one had ever heard of (MIT) in a state no one had ever heard of (Massachusetts) to pursue my lifelong dream of being a chemist. As an undergraduate, I became fascinated by the field of surface chemistry and have spent the ensuing years trying to answer very basic questions about chemical reactivity. These days my research is primarily concerned with turning molecular-scale pictures of surfaces into new insights into the photocatalytic behavior of earth-abundant minerals. I joined the Cornell faculty as an assistant professor in 1994 and worked my way through the ranks, most recently completing a 12-year stint as the Director for the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) — one of the oldest interdisciplinary research centers on campus. Of all of my awards, I am most proud of having been named a Weiss Presidential Fellow in recognition of my contributions to and excellence in undergraduate education.
It is an exciting time to be a member of the Cornell community, with the opening of a new campus in New York City, the emergence of new tools and understanding for collaborative learning and research, and the continual influx of new ideas from incoming students and scholars. Transformative advances in thinking — and thus their subsequent benefits to society — are rarely made by one or two individuals working in isolation. They require a vibrant and engaged community where the free flow of knowledge and results can stimulate new ideas, as well as access to state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities. This is the heart of Cornell. Nevertheless, our community is also facing many challenges, from questions about the value of a college education to decreased federal funding for research. The Board of Trustees has an important role to play in shaping our future, both internally, by continuing to guide the evolution of the University, and externally, by articulating the benefits of an engaged community of scholars to the broader community. I look forward to the possibility of working with them to advance these issues.
Shirley Samuels (srs8), English
As a humanities scholar with several decades of teaching at Cornell, I raise questions about the culture and history of the United States. My published work, including books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, has taken my attention across disciplines; such interdisciplinary attention lies behind my administrative work as Chair of the History of Art Department and Director of FGSS. In addition, I am currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies for American Studies. I served for two terms in the Faculty Senate and two terms on the board of the Society of the Humanities. I’ve worked with university wide programs involving the Herbert F. Johnson Art Museum and the Council for the Arts. The dedication that my career shows to interdisciplinary work in the humanities includes ongoing curiosity about the ways that students studying law, biology, computer science, engineering, and labor relations can learn from the most exciting scholarly work in history, art, and literature. These students show up in my classes and the ongoing project of the 21st century university is to keep such conversations alive.
After more than thirty years at Cornell, I draw on a deep sense of dedication to both students and colleagues in running for a faculty position on the Board of Trustees. I have been able to collaborate and serve as a mentor through my participation as the Dean and House Professor at Flora Rose House on west campus and through chairing the History of Art Department, serving as Director for FGSS, and currently working as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for American Studies. I feel fortunate to have been able to work with vibrant interdisciplinary programs across the university. During my time at Cornell, many changes in the intellectual programs as well as the physical campus have taken place. Among the commitments that I bring to the table are an activist investment in diversity, of students, faculty, and programs, and a commitment to social and environmental justice. I am also attentive to the challenges of proactively managing the evolving relationships between the campus in Ithaca and the various locations either planned or already existing in New York City and elsewhere, challenges that create new opportunities both for growth in New York State and for rethinking the position of the university globally.
Doug Antczak (dfa1), Microbiology and Immunology
My knowledge of Cornell is deep and varied. In 1969 I was awarded the BA degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, where I was a Cornell National Scholar and varsity athlete. Following this, I completed a degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and then a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Since 1978 I have been a faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine, with an appointment in the Baker Institute of Animal Health and the department of Microbiology and Immunology. While on the faculty I have taught undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, and mentored trainees in laboratory research from all those groups. From 1994 to 2009 I served as Director of the Baker Institute. This complex position involved faculty recruitment, mentoring and review; oversight of core Institute staff; maintenance, repair and construction of facilities; extensive fundraising from foundations and private individuals; and stewardship of donors. Currently I serve as a Senator from my academic department and as a member of the Financial Policies Committee. Since 2011 I have been involved in a research project in the Middle East with colleagues at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar. I am also a Cornell parent – my two daughters graduated from Cornell in 2003 and 2005, and I have participated in my own class reunion events since 1979. These experiences have given me a broad understanding of the University.
Cornell’s dynamic Ithaca-based programs and rapidly expanding initiatives in New York City and abroad offer tremendous opportunities for our faculty to participate more fully in teaching, research, and service activities that can have a positive influence on society and the global environment. At the same time these initiatives present a challenge for the Ithaca based campus to remain relevant in an increasingly urbanized world, and in a fiercely competitive environment in higher education. Cornell must respond to the changing curricular preferences of its students, but at the same time we have an obligation to mentor and guide our students towards a lifetime of continuing self-education in preparation for ever-changing conditions that cannot be foreseen. The Faculty are also the stewards of the collective knowledge of our civilization. Engagement with the Administration and Trustees is essential if the Faculty are to have a meaningful role in University governance and in helping to determine Cornell’s future. As a Faculty-elected Trustee, I would bring long-standing institutional memory to the position, and a commitment to serve as a conduit for exchange of information and views between the Trustees and the Faculty. Reasoned dialogue and communication is essential if the Faculty are to work in partnership with the Trustees and Administration. My previous experience as Baker Institute Director afforded me many opportunities to explain to the public how the work of my Institute advances knowledge and contributes to society. Through these efforts I have learned to understand diverse perspectives and interests. Serving as a Faculty-elected Trustee would make me a more effective member of the Financial Policies Committee. I would be honored to serve the Faculty and Cornell in this position.
Laurent Saloff-Coste (lps2), Mathematics
Laurent Saloff-Coste is the Abram R. Bullis Professor of Mathematics and a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship (2006-2007) and is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was educated in Paris (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris VI), France, where he earned a Ph.D. (1983) and a Thèse d’État (1989). Before joining the Cornell Faculty in 1997, he taught high school mathematics as a French civil servant for 4 years, spent a year as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later became Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Toulouse. His research interests include Analysis, Partial Differential Equations, Probability Theory and Geometry, and he pursues collaborations with mathematicians around the world. His research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and he currently serves on the editorial board of six mathematics journals. He is a member of the Center for Applied Mathematics (CAM) and of the graduate fields of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. He has supervised 18 Ph.D. theses. He enjoys interacting with students and colleagues and teaching mathematics from entry-level service courses to graduate seminars. He served on the Academic Integrity Hearing Board of the College of Arts and Sciences, on the University Senate, and as the Chair of the Department of Mathematics 2009-2015 (two terms). He is currently serving on the Arts and Sciences Dean Search Committee.
I am honored to stand for election as a faculty trustee. My experience as Chair of a large department serving the entire university has taught me a great deal about some of the key challenges we face such as offering a rich and exciting experience to our students, attracting and retaining outstanding faculty, balancing our core missions of education and research and fostering a diverse, open and supportive community. In developing solutions, I believe attention must focus primarily on long term goals. Decisions must be based on an understanding of the aspirations of students and faculty, an awareness of the strengths and specificities of Cornell as an institution, a recognition that different fields have different needs and priorities, and a strong collective sense of purpose in support of Cornell’s mission. The Board of Trustees plays a key role in sustaining over the long term the university’s ambitious mission to bring together education, scholarship, discovery, innovation, engagement and service in so many different fields of study. I would be delighted to be given the opportunity to serve and participate in such an important effort. If elected, I will work hard to represent the Cornell faculty and share with the Board my international experience, my perspective as a member of the faculty and my enthusiasm for Cornell’s extraordinary academic diversity and wide-ranging mission.
John Hopcroft (jeh17), Computer Science
John Hopcroft is the IBM Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics. He received his Ph.D. (1964) in EE from Stanford University. He chaired the Computer Science Department and was Dean of the College of Engineering. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, of the National Academy of Engineering, and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 1992, he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, and served through May 1998. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 2016, Premier Li Keqiang presented him with the Friendship Award for his work in China.
I believe in shared governance to advocate for the university's mission and to pursue academic excellence. I've taught Computer Science at Cornell for 50 years, have been Department Chair and Dean of Engineering and so have had the academic and administrative experience to represent the interests and concerns of the faculty to the Board. The educational world is changing and it is important that the trustees be kept informed of faculty concerns and how they view the future of Cornell. My knowledge and experience at Cornell will help bring new perspectives to board discussions and help focus them on what it takes to keep the scholarly environment world class.