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Farewell to David Skorton

On June 30, David Skorton left his post as Cornell's 12th president to become secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. I believe that after nine years of extraordinary leadership, he will go down as one of the greatest presidents in Cornell's history.

Perhaps David's most defining accomplishment was leading the bid to bring the Cornell Tech campus to Manhattan. Cornell's newest graduate school, which recently broke ground on the world's tallest passive house building, is already establishing itself as a global leader in technological innovation and education. In partnership with Weill Cornell, Cornell University's presence in New York City is set to expand dramatically over the next decade, in terms of both its geographic and intellectual reach.

David also led the university through the most difficult economic period our country has faced in recent history--the global financial crisis of 2008. And despite constrained resources during this time, he was able to significantly increase the university's commitment to undergraduate financial aid.

Other highlights of his tenure include the creation of a University Diversity Council to increase diversity among faculty, staff, and students; a concerted push to develop Cornell into a global university; and the completion of the "Cornell Now" capital campaign's initial $4.75 billion goal more than a year ahead of schedule. He's also worked to forge stronger ties between Weill Cornell and the Ithaca campus through a variety of intercampus programs and life science initiatives.

David was one of the reasons I first came to Weill Cornell as dean. He's been a mentor to me since my first days in New York, and he's taught me so much about leadership. He's one of the rarest and most special kinds of leaders--the kind who inspires people not because of the position he holds, but because of the kind of person he is.

David, we'll miss you dearly at Weill Cornell. At the same time, we're looking forward to working with your successor, Beth Garrett, and are eager to see the impact you'll have at the Smithsonian. Thank you for everything you've done for Cornell.

Posted July 8, 2015 10:28 AM | Permalink to this post

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