Cornell College hires Ilene Crawford ’92 as dean

Ilene Whitney Crawford, a 1992 graduate of Cornell College, has been hired as Cornell’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, effective July 1, 2020. She will become the first chief academic officer at Cornell who studied under its distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum.

Ilene-CrawfordJoe Dieker, who has held the position of dean since 2009, will continue at Cornell as a full-time professor of music and chair of the Department of Music beginning next fall. 

Crawford is associate vice president for academic affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Conn. Prior to that appointment in 2015, she taught English,  women’s studies, and interdisciplinary studies at the university for 15 years.

“What emerged from Ilene Crawford’s campus visit is how visionary she is,” said Cornell College President Jonathan Brand. “It is gratifying that she is an alumna. At the same time, she can conjoin that deep institutional knowledge with a compelling ability to anticipate the academic role Cornell College must play in a dynamic higher education landscape.”

Crawford said her heart skipped a beat when she saw the job announcement because she knew she was ready to help lead the college where she experienced her intellectual awakening.

“I will return to the institution that I loved so much at a time when Cornell needs what I think I can provide,” she said. “While there are challenges, I really believe Cornell can thrive. There is a culture of innovation.”

She said she is particularly excited to implement Cornell’s new Ingenuity core curriculum.

“A lot of schools are undertaking general education reform, and many are not as innovative as Cornell,” she said. “The Ingenuity curriculum is going to have a great impact on our students. It will allow us to tell our stories, be prominent in national conversations, and demonstrate the need for the liberal arts.” 

Crawford has published and presented widely in the U.S. and Asia on higher education reform, writing pedagogy, women’s literacy practices, and travel narratives. She traveled to Vietnam in 2010 on a Fulbright teaching fellowship and in 2015-16 on a Fulbright research fellowship, lecturing across Vietnam on higher education policy and reform, teacher training, and curriculum development. 

She holds a doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in English from the State University of New York-Binghamton, and a bachelor of special studies degree in classics from Cornell College. 

Crawford’s husband and parents are also Cornell alumni.