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2019 Program Review

The School of Integrative Plant Science is hosting a program review April 8 - 10. Requested by the Cornell Provost, the goal of the review is to solicit input from respected peers about the health and direction of the School. Reviewers are charged with reviewing the progress made in implementing  our founding vision, the extent to which we are addressing needs and opportunities, and the quality of the training we provide to our students, among other questions.


External review team:

pdf with photos

  • Julia Bailey-Serres, Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology and Distinguished Professor of Genetics, UC-Riverside
  • Charlie Brummer, Director and Professor, Center for Plant Breeding, Plant Sciences Department, UC-Davis.
  • Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin
  • Cindy Nakatsu, Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University
  • Alison Robertson, Professor and Extension Field Pathologist, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University

SIPS self-study document prepared for the Review Team (pdf)


In addition to meetings with SIPS and CALS leadership, extension leaders, directors of graduate study, and others, there will be several opportunities for broader groups within SIPS to meet with the review team.  You are urged to put these times on your calendars and attend it at all possible!

Lunch with Ithaca-based grad students and undergraduates
Monday, April 8, 12:00 – 12:50 pm, Bradfield G04 and Plant Science G22
(review team will divide into two groups)

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS faculty
Monday, April 8, 3:35 – 4:30 pm, 135 Emerson

Meeting with Geneva-based SIPS faculty
Tuesday, April 9, 10:15 – 11:15 am, in Geneva

Meeting with Geneva-based SIPS staff
Tuesday, April 9, 11:15 – 11:45 am, in Geneva

Lunch with Geneva-based SIPS students and post-docs
Tuesday, April 9, 12:15 – 1:15 pm, in Geneva

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS post-docs
Tuesday, April 9, 3:15 – 3:45 pm, 336 Plant Science

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS faculty those unable to attend the Monday meeting
Tuesday, April 9, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, 404 Plant Science

Exit Meeting with Review Teamall interested SIPS personnel welcome
Wednesday, April 10, 1:15 – 1:45 pm, 135 Emerson


Provost's Charge to the External Review Team

The overall objective of the review is to evaluate the accomplishments, trajectory and strategic plan of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS). This review should yield a series of recommendations that will inform the future direction for the relatively new school. Your comments and recommendations will be taken very seriously. Reviews in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have potential to be very influential, as some have initiated major changes. Please use the topics and questions listed below as a guide for reflection as you review the SIPS self-study, participate in our campus visit and formulate your recommendations for the future.

  • Considering the evolution of the disciplines represented within SIPS and the context within Cornell University, how appropriate are the goals and strategic direction identified for the school? How well do the future plans of SIPS integrate with the academic priorities and interdisciplinary themes articulated by the college (https://cals.cornell.edu/sites/cals.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/communications/Strategic-Plan-Full.pdf) and the university (http://www.cornell.edu/strategicplan/)?
  • Does SIPS have an effective mix of expertise to meet college, university, state, national and international needs and opportunities, and to advance the set of disciplines comprising SIPS? What key programmatic areas should be strengthened (or grown de novo); related to this, what are priority areas for faculty hires?
  • The rationale for the formation of SIPS and the basic administrative structure was laid out in the enclosed 2014 white paper (with 2016 amendments), “Proposal for Creating the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.” Please comment on the progress made toward the vision laid out in the white paper and the evolution of SIPS.
  • One of the strengths of SIPS is the disciplinary breadth (from very applied to very fundamental discovery based science) represented by our scientists who work together to further our research, educational and outreach missions. Are there ways that we should be leveraging this breadth more effectively? Are there challenges associated with this organization that we need to address?
  • What are the strengths of the research program within SIPS? Are faculty members publishing on topics related to the goals and mission of the school and college and in appropriate journals for the appropriate fields? Are faculty pursuing and being awarded appropriate levels of external funding from appropriate sources? Are funding opportunities being missed?
  • Has SIPS effectively integrated faculty members from the AgriTech campus in Geneva and other remote locations (e.g., Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center; LIHREC)? Are the faculty at different locations working effectively together? Are there noteworthy challenges the school must address with respect to the separation of the two campuses (i.e., Ithaca and AgriTech)? Does the leadership structure at AgriTech enable the Geneva-based SIPS faculty to contribute to the priorities of the two campuses? The priorities at AgriTech are enumerated at: https://agritech.cals.cornell.edu/sites/agritech.cals.cornell.edu/files/shared/Cornell%20AgriTech%20 Strategic%20Plan%20_web.pdf.
  • Does SIPS as a whole (and as individual faculty members within the school) interact effectively with other units on Cornell’s Ithaca and AgriTech campuses (including USDA-ARS and Boyce Thompson Institute scientists)? Are greater synergies to be gained by efforts to increase interactions? If so, with what units?
  • Are the undergraduate and graduate curricula "state-of-the-art" for preparing students for careers? Are the requirements for students appropriate? Are there clearly-stated learning outcomes and a process that monitors whether those outcomes are being achieved? Are advising and mentoring effective? Are courses well taught? Do the curricula build on the strengths at Cornell and integrate well with other disciplines? Does the teaching program have adequate resources? Are teaching resources (faculty time, TAs, etc.) deployed strategically to support both school and broader college needs?
  • Are the new Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs proposed by SIPS appropriately targeted and likely to succeed? Are there other professional training opportunities that SIPS should be pursuing?
  • Are outreach activities in SIPS aligned with research and teaching programs? Are outreach/extension resources and activities deployed strategically? In what ways is SIPS providing leadership in the conduct of academic outreach that will inform the college in addressing the needs for its New York State stakeholders, as well as constituents across the globe?
  • Is SIPS effectively working with external stakeholders? Are there important opportunities to work with commodity or other industry groups that have been missed?
  • How could the governance and/or administration of SIPS be improved? Are SIPS governance procedures clear and implemented appropriately? Does SIPS have available adequate administrative resources to support the program needs? Are these resources deployed as effectively as they can be? Are they used effectively?
  • What is the work climate within SIPS, for staff and faculty? Are improvements needed? If so, what might be done?
  • Renovation of the Plant Science Building is queued up as the next major construction project in CALS. Are other SIPS facilities adequate for future needs in teaching, research, and extension? What improvements are needed? Are greenhouse and other farm support services adequate for the programs?
  • Housed within SIPS are several important resources and programs, including the L. H. Bailey Hortorium. These programs add tremendous value to the overall reach and accomplishments of SIPS, but are so extensive in number and function that requesting in-depth reviews of each would make this overall SIPS review unwieldy. SIPS is asked to provide a brief summary (a paragraph would suffice, but no more than a page in length) of the following resources: L. H. Bailey Hortorium and Conservatory, Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium, Plant Diagnostic Lab, Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab, Soil Health Lab, Dilmun Student Farm, Ag Education and Outreach, Small Farm Program, Institute for Resources Information Sciences (IRIS). Descriptions can be found in the facilities section of the self-study on page 10 under ‘satellite campuses, farms and infrastructure resources’ hyper link.