ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University is officially launching its School of Public Policy, which will “advance the nascent school’s long-term mission to help solve complex global policy challenges, from inequality to sustainability,” according to an announcement from the school.

The school will be named the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy after Brooks, who obtained his master’s degree from Cornell in 1970, donated a large gift to the university. A Cornell spokesperson declined to specify the amount of money given, but the announcement said it will be used to build an academic curriculum and recruit faculty.

The new school had been previously announced last year, as it is the result of a review of areas where Cornell could potentially increase its academic presence. At the time, it had a projected launch date of Fall 2021, a timeline that seems to be intact with this announcement.

“We have been laying the groundwork for a school that can become a prominent addition to the global policy stage, building upon Cornell’s existing deep strength in public policy and related disciplines,” said Provost Michael Kotlikoff, who led the review process. “The Brooks family’s remarkable support while the school is still being formed is a testament both to their vision and to the school’s great promise and ambition.”

Brooks and his wife, Cherie Wendelken, an Ivy League professor, aimed to help the school recruit faculty and get on its feet in the early going with the donation. The money comes from Brooks, his wife and the Brooks Family Foundation, which they both founded to focus on “health care, underserved children and the environment. Brooks’ father, Earl Brooks, taught at Cornell for almost 50 years in what is now the university’s prestigious S.C. Johnson College of Business.

“I see that same great potential for the future of the School of Public Policy, affecting practices for the common good,” Jeb Brooks said in the announcement. “I am particularly honored to support the creation of an institution dedicated to improvement in areas of sustainability, climate change and social responsibility.”

Brooks made his money by founding Equity Resources Group, a “real estate-focused private equity firm,” followed by co-founding KLD Research and Analytics, which led to an investment firm centered on “environmental, social and governance issues.”

“These are challenging times,” Brooks said. “When I first learned about the new school, I was drawn to Cornell’s vision of creating a multidisciplinary institution to help world societies become safer, more just and sustainable.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at