Marla Love, the interim dean of students and a long-time advocate of student well-being as well as equity and inclusion, has been named the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students. Her appointment is effective immediately.
Formerly Cornell’s senior associate dean of students, where she oversaw diversity and inclusion, Love has been serving as interim dean since September 2020.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to lead at such a critical time when we are back to having a full on-campus semester and to continue navigating how the pandemic has shifted the student experience,” Love said. “I look forward to partnering with my colleagues and with our students to consider new ways to bring about student transformation in the co-curricular.”
“I am thrilled that Marla will continue as the dean of students on an ongoing basis. She is a tremendously valued colleague who has demonstrated a deep commitment to the student experience,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “Marla will be an outstanding champion for student support and empowerment at Cornell.”
Since arriving at Cornell in 2017, Love has been influential in building multiple programs that foster overall student success, academic and personal excellence, and strengthen a sense of inclusion and belonging on campus. During the 2019-20 academic year, for example, she co-chaired the campus-wide mental health review. Part of that process included engaging with faculty partners to better understand their perspectives on student mental health.
“It was a privilege to co-chair the mental health review and to help give voice to the issues that students were experiencing and offer recommendations that will encourage student thriving for years to come,” Love said.
Love’s work on equity and inclusion initiatives has included the creation of the Community Response Team, to support students in distress in lieu of law enforcement. She has also provided leadership for the implementation of the Kessler Presidential Scholars Program, which offers four years of academic, financial and social support to eligible first-generation college students.
“I was the first person in my family to attend college, so I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing three cohorts of the Kessler Scholars join our community and benefit from the support and empowerment provided by professional staff and peer mentors,” she said.
Love hopes to continue engaging university leadership and the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees on trends related to the student experience, creating strong foundations to support student development and campus climate. She will also continue to serve as one of Cornell’s Presidential Advisors on Diversity and Equity
“I have worked with Cornell students at defining moments in their lives and have been inspired by their courage, character and spirit,” she said. “I look forward to creating lasting partnerships with students as we build systems to support, strengthen and enhance the fabric of our campus community.”
Love previously worked at Phillips Academy, an independent boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts (2005-07); Scripps College in Claremont, California (2007-14), where she served as assistant dean of students, director of Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment, and co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion; Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (2014-16), where she was an instructor and academic counselor; and Azusa Pacific University (2016-17) in Azusa, California, where she was director of graduate and professional student affairs.
She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Calvin College in 2002 and a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Michigan in 2003, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Azusa Pacific University in the higher education doctoral program. She is a Meinig Scholar Mentor and looks forward to expanding her involvement as a student mentor.