Jonathan Brand has been president of Cornell College since July 2011. He holds a law degree from Cornell University, a master's degree in French literature from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor's degree in history and French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

During the past nine years, Cornell has completed a comprehensive strategic plan (which includes revised educational priorities and outcomes for all students as well as curricular enhancements), launched new academic programs in Behavioral Neuroscience, Engineering Sciences, and Business initiated the Cornell Institute for Summer Research, launched the One Course Summer Institute, renovated the Thomas Commons (Cornell’s campus center), renovated its four first-year student residence halls, launched the Center for the Literary Arts (and the Dana Emerging Writer Fellow), completed construction of the Russell Science Center, renovated West Science Hall as well as two floors in Law Hall, and upgraded several athletic spaces.  President Brand teaches in the Department of Politics; participates with students, faculty, and staff in a wide range of college activities; and travels extensively to meet with alumni and friends of Cornell.  In addition, President Brand works closely with the college’s board of trustees.  He and his wife, Rachelle LaBarge, are also engaged in the community and the region.  

Brand has written on higher education, including a chapter in the book: Making College Better: Views from the Top as well as articles and columns in the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Huffington Post.  He has also spoken at conferences sponsored by the NCAA and the Council of Independent Colleges, among others.

Before coming to Cornell, he served as President of Doane College in Crete, Neb. for six years and as Vice President of Institutional and Budget Planning and Special Assistant and Counsel to the President at Grinnell College for seven years.

While president of Doane, Brand successfully oversaw record enrollment, the completion of a $45 million fundraising campaign, the renovation and construction of multiple buildings, the addition of majors in biochemistry and journalism, the creation of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and a reduction in the faculty teaching load across the institution.

In addition to his administrative work, Brand has taught courses on political science and constitutional law at Grinnell, Doane and Nanjing University in China. He also teaches at Cornell.

Brand has been involved with the Center for Law and Society’s Mock Trial program at Cornell, and has served as a judge at the regional tournament hosted by Cornell. He practices with the college’s track and cross-country teams, as well. Brand is an avid runner, competing in 12 marathons.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Putney Open Door Fund, which offers scholarship support for economically disadvantaged high school students so that they can participate in summer community service, academic enrichment, and travel programs worldwide, and has led the annual fundraising for the Iowa Peace Institute, a non-profit organization committed to alternative dispute resolution.

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Cornell College will welcome students to campus as it reopens for the fall 2020 semester with classes beginning Aug. 24 for Block 1.
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“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our students and their families as we alter schedules so close to the beginning of the academic year,” said President Jonathan Brand. “We look forward to welcoming our students back soon, but our primary concern right now is the safety of our community. This shift will ensure our facilities team will have time to make necessary repairs and bring our campus back online after the devastating storm.”

- Cornell delays fall semester start date due to storm repairs

“We’ll be able to deliver food to them, they will be able to take their courses, they can have medical care from there. It’s not because we expect it, it’s because we wanna be ready,” says Brand.

- Cornell College prepares to welcome students back to campus next month

“We are in a unique situation on the block plan to act swiftly and nimbly to change our plans, course by course, and support our students to ensure they get a quality education while minimizing risks of virus exposure to them and the entire community,” Brand said.

- Cornell shifts to distance learning amid COVID-19 concerns

“We also decided that we would move about 90% of our courses into a format where they're available online. So, we have courses that are being taught entirely remotely, we have courses that are being taught on campus and remotely at the same time, and we have some courses, a smaller set of courses like lab sciences that are being taught exclusively on campus.”

- Higher Education Reopening During COVID

“Our students returned last week and it was heartening that our local police department was willing to go to the few local drinking establishments in town and reminded them – not that they needed reminding, but just to remind them of the Iowa laws around physical distancing and the consumption of alcohol and food and mask-wearing, all before our students – before the first week together – that was huge”

- Higher Education Reopening During COVID

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