ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University has named three new deans this summer, including choosing the first leader of its newly announced Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.

The new deans were announced by the school in separate press releases last month. Colleen Barry will lead the Brooks School of Public Policy, Jens David Ohlin was named dean of the Cornell Law School and Jinhua Zhao was named dean of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Zhao and Barry are from out of town, but Ohlin had been the interim dean of the law school for several months before the recent removal of the interim tag.

Barry, who the school calls a “nationally recognized policy scholar and leader in the areas of mental health, addiction and gun violence,” comes from Johns Hopkins University where she was a professor and the chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the school’s School of Public Health.

The school specifically touts that, as the first dean of the public policy school, Barry will have an influential role in designing the school’s academic programs, inter-campus partnerships and its standing academically both domestically and worldwide.

Cornell Law School will now be officially led by Ohlin, who had been the interim dean since late 2020. That was when Eduardo Peñalver announced his departure to take the helm of Seattle University as president.

“I love the university, I love the Law School and I love my colleagues, and nothing could make me happier than to take on this new responsibility,” said Ohlin, who has been with the school since 2008. “It’s a labor of love during a very important transitional moment for us. We’re coming out of a difficult time nationally in terms of the pandemic, and there have been a lot of changes in very quick succession.”

The last new dean announced to this point is Jinhua Zhao, an economics professor at Michigan State University, who will lead the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The school’s announcement states that he has previously led the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State for several years.

Zhao started with Cornell on July 1.

“Jinhua is a top-notch scholar, has an excellent track record as an administrator, and radiates excitement about Dyson’s incumbent strengths,” said Andrew Karolyi, dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. “I believe that he has the expertise and energy to be a great leader for Dyson and to collaborate across our college and across Cornell.”

Matt Butler

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