John Cawley, professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), has been named the next director of the long-standing Cornell in Washington program. As he takes the helm July 1, the program will also move organizationally from the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions into the new Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.
Cawley, who is also a professor in the Department of Economics, said he is excited to take on the new role and to see Cornell in Washington move into its new administrative home. “I think the program will be a crown jewel of the undergraduate public policy program,” he said.
Cawley succeeds David Pelletier, professor emeritus in CHE, who led the program since 2016.
“John’s appointment is great news for the Cornell in Washington program and for its relationship with the Cornell Brooks School,” said Tom Pepinsky, the Walter F. LaFeber Professor of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences, who co-chaired the planning committee for the public policy school.
As a founding member of the Cornell Brooks School faculty, Cawley will “bring his expertise to one of the [school’s] signature programs, strengthening links between Ithaca and Washington and showcasing for our students how social science research contributes to contemporary policy debates,” Pepinsky said.
Through the Cornell in Washington program, which first launched in 1980, undergraduates interested in policy and politics live, learn and intern in the nation’s capital for a semester, gaining real-world experience in organizations from think tanks and media to nongovernmental organizations and government agencies. The program also involves several doctoral students, who live full-time in the Cornell-owned Wolpe Center in DuPont Circle along with the undergraduates and serve as resident advisers and academic tutors.
Cawley, whose teaching focuses on public policy, said he was drawn to the position for several reasons, including his research interests in health economics and policy, and his collaborations with researchers in numerous government agencies. He has served as director of graduate studies for the Field of Policy Analysis and Management, has chaired the Academic Integrity Hearing Board for CHE and has served on provost’s committees on public policy and economics.
Cawley also spent one of his own college summers interning on Capitol Hill for former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. “It was a great experience, and I would like to help others have the same opportunity,” he said.
Cornell in Washington “offers Cornell undergraduates the best of both worlds,” Cawley said: “to complement the time that students spend in Ithaca having a great classroom experience, they can spend a semester in D.C. applying that classroom training in an important organization and acquiring practical, real-world experience. It embodies the spirit of Engaged Cornell. Plus, students get to spend a semester in the nation’s capital among some of the best museums in the world.”
In recent years, Cornell in Washington students have had internships in the offices of numerous members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate; the World Bank; the State Department; the Department of Education; CBS News; the Centers for Disease Control; and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Cawley said that diversity, equity and inclusion “are relevant for everything we do, and I look forward to ensuring that the program reflects our diverse world and offers students opportunities in their areas of interest.”
Maria Fitzpatrick, professor of policy analysis and management and director of the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, who also co-chaired the planning committee for the Cornell Brooks School, said bringing Cornell in Washington into the public policy school will “strengthen the ties between experiential learning opportunities and programs for all Cornell students in Washington and the policy engagement of students and faculty in Ithaca. CIW provides a natural hub for policy- and public affairs-related teaching that will better connect the school to D.C. and make it a stronger conduit between the university and related activities in Washington.”
She added that with the Cornell Brooks School housing CIW as well as Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs and the Capital Semester program in Albany, the school “will provide a core foundation of direct access to internships, coursework and career opportunities that will start public policy and other Cornell students on a direct path to improving policymaking and the lives of citizens even while they are still enrolled at Cornell.”