Skip to main content

Wayne A. Cornelius

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science

A world-renowned expert on immigration policy and Mexican studies, Wayne A. Cornelius founded the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego and directed the Center during its first decade. He was also founding director of UCSD’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and the Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program. He earned his Ph.D. in political science at Stanford University and an A.B. summa cum laude from The College of Wooster (Ohio). He has taught at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, UC San Diego, Oxford University, and Reed College. He authored, co-authored or edited over 300 publications and is a frequent contributor to national and international news media, including the BBC World Service and The New York Times. In 2019-2020 he advised presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden on immigration issues. Cornelius did field research with his students annually from 1976 through 2015, from 2005-2015 as founding director of UCSD’s nationally recognized Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program. In 2012, Mexican President Felipe Calderón awarded him the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico’s highest decoration for foreign citizens, recognizing his work on Mexican migration and U.S.-Mexican relations. He also received the Latin American Studies Association’s Kalman Silvert Award for Lifetime Achievement, the University of California’s systemwide Constantine Panunzio Award for distinguished post-retirement service, and the Revelle Medal, UC San Diego’s highest award, which recognizes institution-building by faculty. Nominally retired since 2015, he continues to do research and publish on immigration and refugee policy issues.