Monica Yant Kinney

Associate Vice President

Cornell's Division of University Relations has five integrated communications teams, reporting to Monica Yant Kinney, that work together to advance the university's reputation as a global leader in research and education. We support all colleges, schools, units and partner organizations throughout the university to raise the awareness of Cornell among the broadest possible audience in support of the university’s strategic priorities.

Strategic Communications

Melissa Shaffmaster

Senior Director

Strategic Communications enhances and promotes Cornell University’s reputation as a top research institution and leader in higher education by crafting messaging and implementing communications strategies. We directly support the university’s leadership to advance priorities and initiatives by bringing to life Cornell’s tangible, positive impacts on individuals, communities and the greater society. Leveraging the university’s primary communications platforms, including flagship website and social media channels, we ensure that key messages are delivered to internal and external audiences. We also foster a collaborative environment by working with partners in the colleges and units to amplify storytelling that advances the university’s world-renowned reputation for excellence in learning, discovery and engagement. We also work with campus partners to mitigate risks to the university’s reputation through issues management and crisis and emergency communications.

Our areas of expertise:

  • Strategic Communications Planning
  • Message Development
  • Executive/Leadership Communications
  • Internal Communications
  • New Media
  • Issues Management
  • Crisis and Emergency Communications


Media Relations

Rebecca Valli

Senior Director

Cornell’s Media Relations Office is the university’s liaison to local, regional, national and international media organizations. On both breaking news and long-term research efforts, Media Relations works across the university to connect faculty and administration leaders with traditional and new media.

Media Relations is responsible for:

  • Promoting Cornell’s academic and institutional leadership through press releases, tip sheets, and direct engagement with leading journalists.
  • Arranging and facilitating media coverage of Cornell faculty and visits to Cornell’s campuses.
  • Offering Cornell experts to the media as major news breaks, and swiftly servicing reporter requests for our world-leading scholars.
  • Connecting Cornell voices to media outlets around the world through our radio and TV studios.
  • Assisting members of the Cornell community in their interactions with the media, and in preparing for interviews through customized media training.
  • Producing video b-roll, question-and-answer interviews with faculty and short news packages for use by broadcast and web-based news outlets.


Melanie Lefkowitz

Senior Director

The News Office identifies, develops, edits and disseminates compelling stories about Cornell University’s research, programs, people and strategic priorities, to promote the university as a world-class institution of excellence in teaching, research and public engagement. The News staff publishes the Cornell Chronicle, the university’s official source of news and information. Including breaking research news, administrative announcements and in-depth features documenting Cornell’s impact within its community and around the world, the Cornell Chronicle’s website is updated daily. News highlights are shared in a daily email digest Mondays through Thursdays, and in a weekly email digest distributed to faculty, staff, students and subscribers on Fridays during the academic year.

The Chronicle’s staff of highly experienced writers and editors cover beats including physical sciences and engineering, life sciences, veterinary science, social sciences, art and humanities, architecture, business and entrepreneurship, computer and information science and sustainability. The News office collaborates closely with partners within University Relations and across the university to present and promote top-notch storytelling supported by multimedia produced by Brand Communications, and Media Relations leverages those stories to external audiences.


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Brand Communications

Shane Trost

Senior Director

Cornell Brand Communications is a dedicated in-house creative team committed to university-level communications priorities and strategies. We have two primary functions: to support brand storytelling in coordination with our division partners in Media Relations and News and Strategic Communications; and to develop, manage and consult on all expressions of the university brand.

We manage university-level communications platforms to assert a bold and consistent Cornell brand in video, photography, multimedia and web. The three main properties of our platform "ecosystem" are, the Cornell Chronicle and the brand center website. Together, these platforms host a unified content strategy of relevant, authentic storytelling, designed to win the hearts and minds of key audiences and to propel them to action.

Cornell Brand Communications works with partners across the institution to align our university-level priorities and identity with those of the colleges, schools and units so that together we can advance Cornell’s mission of education, research and public engagement.

To learn more about what we do, visit the Brand Center.


Cornellians is a reader-focused digital-first publication for all Cornell University alumni, combining the best of the former Cornell Alumni Magazine and Ezra magazines and expanding their content and readership, while also creating an online community where all Cornellians can join the conversation. The mission is to engage and inspire alumni throughout their lifetime by informing, entertaining, and connecting the Big Red community around the globe.

Cornellians is produced by its editorial staff in partnership with the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development and with Cornell Brand Communications within the Division of University Relations. It is advised by an alumni committee, including several members with decades of experience in publishing and communication.

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