Search for Cornell University’s 13th president is underway

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ITHACA, N.Y. – The search for Cornell University’s 13th president is underway, with the formation of the Presidential Search Committee and plans to make the process exhaustive and inclusive.

“This is going to be a great search,” said Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees, who recently was tapped to lead the Presidential Search Committee. “Cornell is in a wonderful position in terms of its reputation, academic stature and financial position, and that bodes very well for this process. David Skorton has done an outstanding job.”

On March 10, Skorton announced he will step down in July 2015 to become secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Harrison ’76 appointed the 19-member search committee, including Zubrow as committee chair.

At the board of trustees open session March 28, Harrison described the start of the search process and shared the list of committee members:

  • Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, trustee
  • Barbara Baird ’65, faculty, trustee
  • Joseph Burns, Ph.D. ’66, faculty, dean
  • David Croll ’70, trustee
  • Jonathan Culler, faculty
  • Ross Gitlin ’15, undergraduate student, trustee
  • Laurie Glimcher, faculty, dean
  • Robert Harrison ’76, chairman of the board of trustees
  • Ronald McCray ’79, trustee
  • Alan Mittman ’71, non-faculty employee, trustee
  • Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82, trustee
  • Charles Phlegar, non-faculty employee
  • Leland Pillsbury ’69, trustee
  • Lisa Skeete Tatum ’89, trustee
  • Andrew Tisch ’71, trustee
  • Sanford Weill ’55, trustee emeritus
  • Barton Winokur ‘61, trustee
  • Mariana Wolfner ’74, faculty, trustee

A graduate student trustee will be included after elections are held.

Chairmen Emeriti Peter Meinig ’61 and Harold Tanner ’52 will serve as advisers to the Presidential Search Committee.

“We have an extraordinary search committee, and I am confident that it will identify the right person to become our next president,” Harrison said. “I asked Jan Rock Zubrow to chair the committee because of the depth of her understanding of Cornell’s strengths and possibilities, her 16 years of experience on the board, her demonstrated ability to lead a committee, and her involvement in two prior presidential searches. She participated in the selection of our 12th president, and David Skorton has proven to be a great leader for Cornell. I am excited to see this search get underway, and I look forward to an inclusive and uniquely Cornell search process.”

A subcommittee of the Presidential Search Committee interviewed search firms and selected Spencer Stuart to assist Cornell. Jennifer Bol, a senior member of the firm’s education, nonprofit and government practice, has conducted searches for other university presidents and has also worked on dean searches for Cornell.

The Presidential Search Committee is beginning an outreach process to meet with various constituencies – faculty, students, non-faculty employees, alumni and others – to receive input on the critical issues facing Cornell’s next president. That outreach will take place on campus and elsewhere, Zubrow said. Additionally, a website will provide information and a point of contact where people can send their thoughts and names of potential candidates.

“Some of the questions we will be asking are, ‘What are the current initiatives that have been critical to Cornell’s success, and what are some of the opportunities and challenges going forward?’” Zubrow said. “And therefore, based on those assessments, what do we think are the key criteria for the person who would assume the presidency?”

The committee is being assisted by Hayley Harris, senior human resources consultant, in the role of executive secretary, and Lisa Yager, administrative assistant in the Office of the President, as executive assistant.

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