Oct. 14, 2010

Zellman Warhaft to help administration diversify faculty

Zellman Warhaft, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been named provost fellow for one year, effective immediately. He will help Provost Kent Fuchs and Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman clarify roles related to diversity, particularly in the areas of faculty and academic hiring and overall diversity and inclusion.

"Professor Warhaft's success with diversity at the College of Engineering, his passion for social and environment issues, and the respect he has earned across campus for his research and teaching make him an ideal candidate," Fuchs said.

Warhaft will consider such broad issues of inclusion and diversity as interdisciplinary appointments and other emerging trends that will impact the university's diversity in the future. He will also work closely with the Division of Human Resources, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion, colleges, schools, deans and department chairs to understand their processes and priorities and to ensure that college and university systems coordinate.

"We are very fortunate that Professor Warhaft is willing to serve the university in this way. I have such respect for his vision and ideas in the broad area of inclusion and diversity; this is a quite a gift," said Opperman.

The appointment springs from the strategic plan's goals for increasing faculty diversity. They include:

Warhaft was the College of Engineering's first associate dean for diversity, from 2003 to 2007. The Zellman Warhaft Commitment to Diversity Award was established by the College of Engineering in 2007 in his honor.

Warhaft sees nurturing intellectual diversity as being as important as nurturing ethnic and gender diversity. "Of course, they are all closely related," he said. "Today we are facing enormous challenges. Population growth; global climate change; scarcities of water, food and clean air; religious intolerance; and dwindling energy supplies are examples of profoundly important subjects that need a diversity of approaches. We need faculty who can rise out of narrow disciplines and work across the campus with faculty who have quite different expertise."

Warhaft does research on turbulence and does experiments in wind tunnels to investigate mixing caused by turbulence as well as fundamental aspects of the turbulence itself. He is also concerned with the social and environmental aspects of engineering and teaches courses on these topics. He has been a Cornell faculty member since 1977.

A provost fellow is a faculty member whom the provost asks to help on a specific project for a limited-term assignment. The university and central administration benefit from the faculty member's knowledge of academic departments, schools and colleges, while the faculty member has the opportunity to make an important difference at Cornell in a specific area over a short period of time.