Will the Cornell administration respond to questions from pro-union graduate students?

Date: March 2017



I have a question for the Deans of the Graduate School. I understand that the Cornell Administration is limited in its ability to communicate publicly about potential unionization, or a potential upcoming election. I would be interested in hearing how the administration responding to these two questions in this public manner squares with such restrictions. Moreover, would the administration entertain the possibility of responding to the inquiries of graduate students who support unionization?


Questioning Graduate Student


Dear Questioning Graduate Student:

Thank you for your Ask a Dean question. 

The May, 2016 Agreement between CGSU/AFT/NYSUT and Cornell regarding pre-election activities specified that several University officials may communicate as needed regarding the issues associated with graduate assistant unionization. The Agreement limits the University administration to one formal communication regarding the University’s official position, and that communication was made by Interim President Rawlings in the fall.

There will be a series of communications within the next month regarding the specific logistics of the union representation election procedures, particularly targeted communications with the individuals who are eligible to vote so that they understand the election process and the importance of casting a ballot on election day.

“Ask a Dean” questions are submitted by Cornell graduate students and answered by Cornell deans. If you have another question, please submit it and we will endeavor to provide a response.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School