The Dean's Letter

August 21, 2023

Hope for the Possible

Dear AAP Community — 

Welcome to all of our new students, faculty, and staff, and welcome back to all who are returning to the college this fall. With the coming of each academic year, I am always awestruck by the collective spirit of optimism and readiness that charges the halls with energy and hope for the possible. Year after year, perhaps this would be more expected. Still, I am grateful for it, and for our community that shares not only space, time, and purpose that bring us all together but also a sense of both agency and urgency to transform the world and create possible futures.

Prolific author and thinker Rebecca Solnit shares, "Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope." Written nearly twenty years ago, Solnit's words are today a salient reminder of the critical importance of both hope and action as we take on uncertainty and the ever-urgent challenges of our time, drawing connections across our natural, social, and constructed environments to imagine and make possible lasting, positive change. 

This fall, we will see the results of a number of important ideas and actions that have emerged in our community over the past few years. For example, we are excited to offer for the first time Creating Justice: The Worlds We Make, a cross-college, co-taught course covering timely topics including structural racism, colonialism, injustice, and bias. This class will be for all first-year undergraduate AAP students who join the college in our collective mission to build a more just and equitable world. The course will be led by core faculty, including Associate Dean for Diversity and Equity Jen de los Reyes (Art), Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Neema Kudva (CRP), as well as department chairs Caroline O'Donnell (Architecture), Sophie Oldfield (City and Regional Planning), and Paul Ramírez Jonas (Art). 

I am excited to share that AAP recently launched a new scholarship initiative focused specifically on access and affordability. This important effort marks 150 years of excellence at AAP and aims to increase affordability by raising 150 gifts specifically for scholarships to help ensure the most talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds can access a Cornell education. As part of the larger university-wide To Do the Greatest Good campaign, AAP has raised $73.9M to date for the college's Building Better Futures priorities and initiatives. Affordability is among the most critical priorities for both the university and the college, and campaign fundraising will continue through June 2026. 

As we continue to build upon our foundations, values, and priorities, I am thrilled to welcome new leadership to the college to help shape and steer our efforts. This fall, Professor Milton Curry returns to AAP as an architecture faculty member and Senior Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Engagement; Sara Eddleman is our new Associate Dean for Administration; and Professor Stuart Rosenthal begins his appointment as Chair of the Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate, jointly led with the SC Johnson College of Business. I look forward to working with each of them, as well as with all of our college and department leadership and our community as we continue to actualize our hopes, ideals, and actions to advance our mission. 

Please find more information on things to come this fall at AAP, including new faculty and visitors to meet, new programs to look for, capital project updates, and curricular and extracurricular opportunities, among other developments in the AAP fall 2023 highlights article.

At AAP, action is grounded in the knowledge, research, and creative practices we build and share. And, as artists, designers, scholars, and urban change agents, we link our hopes to our actions as we imagine and create possibility in our community and well beyond. As Solnit suggests, action is perhaps impossible without hope — and, another, better, fairer, more just and equitable world, impossible without action. With this, I am very much looking forward to the months ahead, and to the other worlds we begin to make possible today. 


J. Meejin Yoon
Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning


Contact Office of the Dean

129 Sibley Dome
Phone: (607) 255-9110
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Previous Letters from the Dean

"Knowledge at its best"

January 22, 2024

Sharing Gratitude

December 14, 2023

Hope for the Possible

August 21, 2023
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