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Wendy Wolford appointed vice provost for international affairs

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John Carberry

Wendy Wolford

Wendy Wolford has been named Cornell vice provost for international affairs, Provost Michael Kotlikoff has announced.

The appointment is effective March 20 and will run through June 30, 2022; she succeeds Laura Spitz, who is joining the law faculty at the University of New Mexico.

Wolford is the Robert A. and Ruth E. Polson Professor of Global Development in the Department of Development Sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research includes work on international development; land use and distribution; social mobilization; agrarian societies; and critical ethnography.

“Wendy Wolford has been steeped in international studies, facilitating research and forging partnerships across disciplines and across the globe for her entire academic career,” Kotlikoff said. “At Cornell, she has led these efforts through her teaching, research and collaborations. As vice provost for international affairs, she will build on this excellent track record by strengthening the university’s many global connections and interdisciplinary initiatives.”

Kotlikoff continued: “I also want to thank Laura Spitz for her leadership in this role for nearly three years. The university has benefited from her vision of a dynamic international footprint, and from her ability to work collaboratively and effectively with faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

Wolford will oversee the recently established Office of Global Learning, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the development and opening of the new Cornell China Center in Beijing by spring of 2019 as well as the university’s China Advisory Board.

As vice provost, Wolford will provide strategic leadership for global engagement and internationalization; oversee and manage Cornell’s global partnerships; and support, facilitate and coordinate global activities for colleges, faculty, staff and students, including risk assessment, travel and safety. She also will partner with units and divisions, including the Center for Teaching Innovation, University Relations, Cornell Information Technologies, Alumni Affairs and Development, and the Office of Engagement Initiatives on globally focused teaching, learning, research, institutional data collection and more.

Wolford will chair the university’s Internationalization Council, the International Gift Review Committee, the International Travel and Response Team and the provost’s Working Group on Public and Global Activities.

“I am honored to take on this new role to represent international affairs at Cornell,” Wolford said. “There is a long tradition here of excellence and engagement in international work. My goal as vice provost will be to foster this work across campus, and to facilitate in-depth, interdisciplinary collaborations in global research and teaching.

“Effective international work that befits a premier academic institution like Cornell must enable deep understanding at multiple levels, from the local to the regional and global,” she said. “In an era of persistent inequality and shared vulnerabilities, it is our collective obligation to be good global citizens and promote a presence that is collaborative, long-term and academically rigorous.”

Wolford came to Cornell in 2010 and has served as the faculty director for economic development at the Atkinson Center, where she co-led CARE-Cornell and Oxfam-Cornell collaborations. She was co-leader of a three-year theme project on contested global landscapes at Cornell’s Institute for the Social Sciences.

She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, including “To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil” (2003) with Angus Wright; “This Land Is Ours Now: Social Mobilization and the Meanings of Land in Brazil” (2010); and “Governing Global Land Deals: The Role of the State in the Rush for Land” (2013) with Jun Borras, Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Ben White. She also co-edits the Cornell University Press series “Land: New Directions in Development, Territory and Environment” with Michael Goldman and Nancy Peluso.

Wolford received her B.A. in economics and international development from McGill University (1994) and her Ph.D. (2001) in geography from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining Cornell, she was a faculty member in geography at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2001-10) and a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University (2004-05). She spent 2016-17 as a Fulbright scholar in Mozambique and Portugal, and is currently working on a book on the politics of inequality and rural development in Brazil and Mozambique.


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