• Law, Policy -- and IT?

    Tracy Mitrano explores the intersection where higher education, the Internet and the world meet (and sometimes collide).


Time to Fledge Cornell's Nest!

A career shift.


January 22, 2014

I am retiring from my position at Cornell University.  In 1991, I began my career there as a visiting assistant professor in Human Development of the School of Human Ecology (filling in for Joan Brumberg’s sabbatical), then attended the law school, and upon graduation began teaching part time (while I was caring for parents and raising my boys) back in Human Development (filling in this time for Phyllis Moen) before taking the position in IT on April 1, 2001.  I will forever be grateful to Steve Worona and Polley McClure for taking a chance on me.  After all, what did I know about the Internet?  (Turns out enough to get my feet wet, thanks to my partner at the time, Bill Schaff, an electrical engineer at Cornell, who gave me a modem almost the very day the Internet went public, and the inspired former Dean and Professor of Law, Peter Martin, of the Legal Information Institute.)

Twelve years in this position I have learned so much.  At Cornell, I want to recognize especially recognize Anne Lukingbeal, Karl Pillemer and Clare McMillan, Mary Beth Norton, Fred Schneider, Geri Gay, Sarah Thomas and Peter Hirtle, Joshua Adams, Pat McClary, Anne Kenney, Oya Reiger and Kornelia Tancheva, the last three especially, together with Mary Adie and everyone in Continuing Education, for their support of my true love of these last 12 years: Institute for Computer Policy and Law Program and all of its participants.

I left college with a dream to serve higher education, and allow me to express gratitude to President Robert Sproull of the University of Rochester, erstwhile of Cornell, for suggesting that law school was a good background for administration, even if I was on my way to graduate school when he offered that sage advice.  Just recently, I had the opportunity to thank him in person.  He is 95 now, and a pillar of the highest values and achievements of twentieth-century higher education.

Fun stuff coming up!  My older son, Nikko and I are starting a consulting firm; I expect my younger son, Sam, who has an exquisite sense of all things cultural, will join us after getting some college under his belt. 

Also, I am helping Internet 2 and Ken Klingenstein with their National Strategies for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace grant from NIST, the LARPP Project in particular (Lifestyles of the Attribute Rich and Privacy Preserved). Ithaca College has a terrific Executive Master’s Program, in which I will teach Intellectual Property.  Dan Solove and I will continue our privacy conference, renamed “The Higher Ed Privacy Conference.” 

Board work remains a privilege: the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, or “NITLE,” the New York State Board of Education Distance Education Task Force, Tompkins Country Library and Legislature’s Broadband Committee.  In addition I am faculty for Sloan Foundation Institute for Emerging Leaders in On-Line Education. 

In February, I will give a keynote on "Global Universities: International Inter-Institutional Course Development” at the American University in Beirut.  In July I will teach Internet Media for John Cabot University’s summer program in Rome.  It remains my goal to help create a framework to connect faculty around the world who will deploy technology to enhance international educational experiences.   Finally, I am taking this opportunity to write, including this blog.

Talk with me for more than five minutes and I am almost sure to tell you that my father owned a restaurant.  It was the best education I ever received.  But higher education changed my life, the quality of which would be much poorer without the experience. Notwithstanding all of its challenges, I continue to have an enduring belief in its missions.   “Gladly would I learn, and gladly teach.”


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