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SIPS statement: Action for Racial Justice

June 3, 2020

Dear SIPS Community,

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

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

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

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


SIPS Executive Committee

  • Chris Smart – Director
  • Hale Tufan – Chair Diversity & Inclusion
  • Magdalen Lindeberg – Assistant Director
  • Toni DiTommaso – Chair Soil & Crop Sciences
  • Jeff Doyle – Chair Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Steve Reiners – Chair Horticulture
  • Gillian Turgeon – Plant Pathology & Plant Microbe Biology
  • Klaas van Wijk – Chair Plant Biology
  • Mike Gore – incoming Chair Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Joss Rose – incoming Chair Plant Biology
  • Susan Hoskins – Co-Chair Extension
  • Jenny Kao-Kniffin – Co-Chair Extension
  • Marvin Pritts – Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Cindy Twardokus – Assistant to the Director
  • Andy Vail – Senior Administrative Director

SIPS Council of Directors of Graduate Studies

  • Michael Scanlon – Plant Biology (Chair) and member of EC
  • Thomas Bjorkman – Horticulture
  • Adam Bogdanove – Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology
  • Michael Mazourek – Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Olena Vatamaniuk – Soil & Crop Sciences

Cornell and Community Resources:

Tompkins County:

Resources on allyship:

Books about Race: