Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations
ILR logo
Established 1945
Type Statutory
Dean Harry C. Katz
Academic staff 50
Undergraduates 911[1]
Location Ithaca, New York, USA
Affiliations Cornell University

The New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) is an industrial relations school at Cornell University, an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, USA. ILR specializes in the fields of human resource management, labor relations, and dispute resolution.

Established by the state legislature in 1945, the school is a statutory or contract college and receives funding from the State of New York. It was the world's first school for college-level study in workplace issues and remains one of a handful of four-year undergraduate programs focused on work and employment. In addition to its undergraduate curriculum, the school offers professional and doctoral degrees, as well as executive education programs.



Irving Ives concurrently served as dean of ILR and as United States Senator.

In 1944, a coalition of leaders in American business, industry, labor, government, and education formed to establish the school. They believed that a new type of school was needed that focused on issues involving the American workplace.


More specifically, the State Legislature established the school in 1945 based on the recommendations of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Industrial and Labor Conditions. This committee was headed by Irving M. Ives and was originally formed in 1938. Ives, along with others in the committee, determined that a fundamental dysfunction in the relationship between management and labor was that each group brought different technical information and skills to the negotiating table and that these differences were hindering the formation of mutually favorable outcomes. The committee’s response to this observation was to recommend that the state of New York provide "a common training program" for representatives of labor and management.[2] The committee stressed that the importance of such a training program is "not merely attendance at the same institution or in the same school, but rather mutual and cooperative analysis of the problems common to both groups." Indeed, a quote from the committee’s 1943 report adds, "The Committee believes [however] that a state-sponsored school in this state should be based upon a broader educational philosophy. One of the most important ways of improving industrial and labor relations is to bring together, in a common training program, representatives of both labor and industry."[3]

Frances Perkins, ILR professor from 1952-1965, was the first female U.S. Cabinet member and the champion of the NLRA, the FLSA, and the Social Security Act.

In other words, it was the committee’s recommendation to provide common training to leaders from all perspectives of the management-labor debate. It was hoped that this common training would stabilize the negotiating table by producing leaders on all sides who have common technical information and competencies. In 1942 the committee recommended that ILR be established at Cornell (the state’s land grant institution). Two years later, formal legislative action was taken and Governor Dewey approved establishing the school. On July 1, 1945 ILR became a going educational enterprise. The school was charged with the mission "to improve industrial and labor conditions in the State through the provision of instruction, the conduct of research, and the dissemination of information in all aspects of industrial, labor, and public relations, affecting employers and employees."[4][5]


Ives was the first dean of the school. However, soon after gaining this title he became a United States Senator for New York and left for Washington. Beginning in the summer of 1947, Martin P. Catherwood became the dean The school was also championed by, then Chancellor of Cornell University, Edmund Ezra Day. The state of New York provided the school with generous funding. However, due to time constraints, the school soon moved into quonset huts on the Ithaca campus and later into buildings vacated by the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine.[4]

Milton R. Konvitz, who was a labor-law expert, was a founding faculty member and remained active until his death in 2003. Frances Perkins, who served as Secretary of Labor for 12 years under Franklin D. Roosevelt, joined the faculty and served until her death in 1965.

Original curriculum

The school offered the first 4-year degree (B.S.) in the field of industrial and labor relations. Originally, students had ninety-seven of the required 120 hours prescribed for them. The first two years consisted of many social science classes such as American history and government, sociology, psychology, economics, and law. Students were required to take English and public speaking courses as well as courses in accounting and statistics. The last two years of coursework were the technical core: classes that were expected to provide the students with the technical skills and competencies which enable them to develop professional expertise within the field of industrial and labor relations. Examples of these courses include: history of labor and labor-union organization and management, business organization and management, and corporate finance. Beyond the classroom, students were expected to gain applied experience. This was achieved primarily through a required summer work-training program. To fulfill this expectation, students would spend three of their summers working in the field for each of the following types of organizations: industrial or commercial, government, and labor.[6]


Overlooking the ILR quad
ILR Extension in New York City

The school was originally housed in quonset huts, but later it moved into buildings vacated by Cornell's veterinary medicine school, which were built in 1911 and are on the register of historic structures.

The main campus occupies a quad near the center of Cornell, comprising an academic building, a research building, an extension building, a conference center, and a library. Ives Hall, named after ILR founding dean Irving Ives, is the academic building and is divided into a classroom/student wing and a faculty wing. The student wing houses separate lounges for undergraduate and graduate students. Also on the quad is the Martin P. Catherwood Library, which is one of only two official depository libraries of the International Labour Organization (the other being the Library of Congress). The ILR Conference Center, with its distinctive belfry atop, hosts special training sessions and recruiting events, and houses a United States Post Office and offices for the United Auto Workers. The research building houses the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution as well as offices for the ILR Review. The extension building, renamed Dolgen Hall in 2008, houses the Employment & Disability Institute.[7]

In 1998, New York State replaced the portion of Ives Hall fronting along Tower Road with a new 110,605 sq ft (10,275.5 m2) building.[8] Recently, the State also renovated the faculty wing of Ives Hall at a cost of $14 million.[9] The school also has branches in Albany, Buffalo, New York City and Rochester.[10] From 2001-2004, the three buildings were extensively renovated by New York State.[11]

ILR also furnishes an extension building in New York City, where executive courses are taught and which serves as headquarters for the R. Brinkley Smithers Institute for Alcohol-Related Workplace Studies and the Institute for Workplace Studies.

Organization and degree programs

The school is divided into six departments: Labor Relations, Law and History; Human Resource Studies; International and Comparative Labor Relations; Labor Economics; Organizational Behavior; and Social Statistics.

Undergraduate programs

While most such schools offer only masters and PhD degrees in human resources or labor relations, Cornell is one of a few that offer a four-year undergraduate program focused on work and employment, the B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations (BSILR).[12] All students are required to complete a 120 credit hour curriculum with the following general requirements: First-year students are required to complete a two-semester writing seminar, Introduction to Organizational Behavior, History of American Labor, as well as micro and macro economics. Sophomore year students have the following course requirements: statistical reasoning, labor and employment law, Human Resource Management, Collective Bargaining, and an economics seminar. Junior and Senior level students are required to take 24 credits from within the school's six departments. An additional 16 credits may be taken outside the school. Additionally, there are math and physical education requirements.[13] Twenty five percent of undergraduates go on to attend law school[14] and another 10 percent earn an MBA or other advanced degree.[14][15] Of the 911 undergraduates, 406 (45%) were New York State residents at the time they matriculated.[16] New York residents pay a reduced in-state tuition.

Undergraduate dual-degree programs include the following:

  • B.S./M.S.: ILR undergraduates with strong GPA (3.5 or above) are given the option to apply to this five-year program. Undergraduate students choosing this option are required to provide the same application materials as a candidate whose undergraduate work was done with a school other than ILR.[17]
ILR School

Labor Relations, Law and History
Human Resource Studies
International & Comparative Labor Relations
Labor Economics
Organizational Behavior
Social Statistics
  • B.S./MBA: Highly qualified undergraduates may apply to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management for this five-year, dual-degree program. GMAT scores must be submitted as part of the program application. If accepted, the student is required to complete all requirements for the B.S. degree by the end of his/her junior year. The fourth and fifth years are then spent completing requirements for the MBA degree.[18]
  • B.S./MILR: undergraduates may apply to Cornell University Graduate School for the 2-year professional MILR program. Undergraduate students choosing this option are required to provide the same MILR application materials as a candidate whose undergraduate work was done at a different school. They are also required to complete the MILR program's normal 48 credit hours.[18]

The school also sponsors a chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The school's undergraduate contingent has claimed the national title at SHRM's HR Games twice—in 2002 and 2004.[19]

Undergraduates have a number of intership opportunities, including semester-long for-credit internships.[20] The school also sponsors non-credit internships over the January break or during the summer.[20] Students can also participate in the Arts College's Cornell-in-Washington program. Students in the top 20% of their junior class can write a senior thesis and thereby graduate with honors.[21]

Graduate programs

These graduate-level degrees are offered through the Graduate School:

  • Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR): Two-year professional degree for which students are required to complete 48 credit hours (16 courses): 6 core courses, 6 concentration courses, and 4 electives. Students may choose one of five concentrations: Human Resources and Organizations, Collective Representation, Dispute Resolution, Labor Market Policy, or International and Comparative Labor.[22]
  • MILR/MBA: Dual-degree program with the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Termed the "crown jewel for aspiring HR professionals,"[23] students must apply and be accepted to both programs. One year is spent completing MILR core courses and electives. One and a half years are then spent completing 45 credit hours of MBA instruction.[24]
  • Master of Professional Studies (MPS): Professional degree designed for students who "are, or have been employed in human resources, dispute resolution, collective representation or other labor related fields and wish to upgrade their skills and understanding." Completion of the program can occur in one year with full-time study, pending 30 credit hours of study and completion of an MPS project. Study is offered at the Ithaca and New York City campuses.[25] The Ithaca-based faculty also teaches a New York City based MPS program, which is designed for part-time students.[26]
  • M.S./Ph.D.: Both degrees are intended for students wishing to pursue an academic or research career in human resources or labor relations. The M.S. degree is normally completed in two years and culminates with a Master's thesis. The Ph.D. degree is begun after the student has completed a master's degree or other advanced degree in the social sciences and culminates in a doctoral dissertation. The following major areas of study apply to both degree programs: Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History; Human Resource Studies; International Comparative Labor; and Organizational Behavior. The school offers two minor programs of study: Social Statistics and labor economics.[27]

Graduate students may also complete a semester abroad or a one-year-additional dual-degree Master in Management from ESCP Europe at any one of its campuses: Paris, Torino, Berlin, Madrid, or London.

Activities and publications

Since 1946, the school has participated in Cornell University's cooperative extension program, which reaches every county in the state. The school's extension program provides training and consulting services to both organized labor and management on contract negotiations, grievance handling, and employee relations. Since the 1990s the extension service has expanded into topics such as racial and gender diversity, health and safety, alcohol and substance abuse, regulatory compliance, and integrating persons with disabilities into the workforce.[28]

ILR also offers online learning courses and materials through eCornell, and its international program hosts scholars from other nations to conduct research in Ithaca as visiting fellows.[29] Starting in 1952, the school conducted the Liberian Codification Project under the direction of Milton R. Konvitz.[30]

The school houses a number of research institutes, including the Martin and Laurie Scheinman Institute of Collective Bargaining, the Institute on Conflict Resolution, the Institute for Labor Market Policies, and the New York City-based Institute for Workplace Studies.[26] The school also hosts:

  • Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS), CAHRS partners include over 60 organizations that represent a cross-section of the global economy
  • Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI), which includes faculty from four other CU colleges
  • Employment and Disability Institute (EDI)
  • Global Labor Institute (GLI)
  • Institute for Community College Development (ICCD), which provides professional development opportunities for current or future administrators and faculty members of community colleges
  • Institute for Compensation Studies (ICS), which focuses on both monetary and non-monetary rewards for work
  • NYS AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute, which offers a one-year certificate pgorams for labor union leaders
  • R. Brinkley Smithers Institute for Alcohol-Related Workplace Studies[31]

Graduate students oversee the Cornell HR Review, an online journal that publishes on a rolling basis.[32] Since 1947, the school's faculty publishes a quarterly academic journal named the Industrial and Labor Relations Review.[33] The undergraduate ILR Sports Management Club has also published Sports, Inc. magazine each academic semester since Spring 2009.[34]


ILR alumnus and CBS Early Show reporter Dave Price broadcasting from the Fall 2008 ILR Orientation


Current and former faculty include Charles Tharp, former SVP of HR at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Saks;[35][36] Kevin Hallock, board member for WorldatWork;[37] and the 4th U.S. Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins -- the first female U.S. Cabinet member, the longest-serving (12 years) Secretary of Labor, witness to the Triangle Factory fire, and champion of both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Social Security Act.[38] Andy Stern, former President of the SEIU, holds an appointment as the Alice B. Grant Labor Leader in Residence at the school.[39]


Graduates of the school include Executive VP, Provost, and former Interim President, Ohio State, Joseph A. Alutto (Ph.D.'68); NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman (BSILR '74);[40] Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Alan B. Krueger (BSILR '82); PepsiCo (Quaker Oats) CHRO, Michael DeAngelo (MILR '97)[41][unreliable source?]; SVP of HR, Archer Daniels Midland, Michael D'Ambrose (BSILR '79);[42] CHRO, JP Morgan Chase, John L. Donnelly (BSILR '78);[43][44] SVP of HR, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Pam Kimmet (BSILR);[45] former Cornell football head coach, Jim Knowles (BSILR '87);[46] former New York City Schools Chancellor, Harold O. Levy (BSILR '74);[47] VP of HR, Corning Incorporated, Christy Pambianchi (BSILR '90);[48][unreliable source?] CBS's The Early Show reporter, Dave Price (BSILR '87);[49] COO, Towers Perrin, Stuart Roth (MILR/MBA '00);[50][unreliable source?] SVP of HR, SunGard, Kathleen Weslock (MILR);[51] U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor, Seth Harris (BSILR '83);[52] New York State Senator, Michael F. Nozzolio;[53] American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten (BSILR '80);[54] former Academy of Management President, David A. Whetten (Ph.D. '74);[55] and former Northrop Grumman CHRO, Ian Ziskin (MILR '82).[56][57][unreliable source?]

See also

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External links

Coordinates: 42°26′55″N 76°28′43″W / 42.448510°N 76.478620°W / 42.448510; -76.478620

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