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ITHACA, N.Y. – The search for Cornell’s 14th president has officially begun with the formation of a Presidential Search Committee, chaired by trustee Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, that plans to be as inclusive and thorough as possible.

Zubrow led the search committee two years ago that recommended Elizabeth Garrett as the university’s 13th president. Garrett died of colon cancer March 6 after eight months in office.

“I was honored to lead the search that selected Beth Garrett. Her death, and a presidency cut so short, was a tragic loss for the university and the Cornell community,” Zubrow said. “I am humbled, but proud, to once again lead a committee that will choose a leader who will both carry Beth’s momentum forward and bring his or her own unique vision to Cornell’s future.”

Robert S. Harrison ’76, chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees, appointed the committee, which was approved by the board. The committee is composed of 19 members representing trustees, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, staff and alumni. In addition to Zubrow and Harrison, the committee members are:

  • Yamini Bhandari ’17, undergraduate student, trustee
  • Jessica M. Bibliowicz ’81, trustee
  • Dara Brown ’13, graduate student, trustee-elect
  • Chad O. Coates, employee, trustee-elect
  • David Croll ’70, trustee
  • Ruben Jose King-Shaw Jr. ’83, trustee
  • Peggy J. Koenig ’78, trustee
  • Isaac Kramnick, faculty
  • Bruce V. Lewenstein, faculty, trustee-elect
  • Ronald D. McCray ’79, trustee
  • Donald C. Opatrny ’74, trustee
  • Leland C. Pillsbury ’69, trustee
  • Andrew H. Tisch ’71, trustee
  • Charles F. Van Loan, faculty dean-elect
  • Fred Van Sickle, non-faculty employee
  • Barton J. Winokur ’61, trustee
  • Mariana F. Wolfner ’74, faculty, trustee

Board Chairmen Emeriti Peter C. Meinig ’61 and Harold Tanner ’52, as well as Sanford I. Weill ’55, chairman emeritus of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers, will serve as advisers to the Presidential Search Committee.

“Cornell University’s next chapter already is underway,” Harrison said. “Selecting the university’s next leader is crucial, and I am confident the committee will identify an extraordinary leader who will continue our mission of global engagement, top-tier education, and groundbreaking research and discovery across the disciplines. I look forward to hearing from our community during this collaborative process.”

The Presidential Search Committee will hold listening sessions with faculty, staff, students, alumni and local community leaders to receive input on what attributes Cornell’s next president should have to lead the university; on how a next president should apply his or her own vision to the university’s priorities and initiatives; and to identify other challenges and opportunities Cornell is facing that an incoming president should be ready to address.

A presidential search website has been created to provide information and to be a point of contact where people can send their thoughts and names of potential candidates.

The committee is being assisted by Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer, and Lisa Yager, administrative assistant in the Office of the President.

Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell president emeritus, began serving as interim president today, April 25, as the international search process begins; he will remain in office until the next president takes office. Provost Michael Kotlikoff had been serving as acting president since Feb. 19.

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews. For additional information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.