March 15, 2002

Rawlings Announces He Will Retire in 2003

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President Hunter R. Rawlings III announced at a press conference today that he will leave his post effective June 30, 2003. Rawlings is the University’s tenth president.

Rawlings, who was elected in December of 1994 and assumed the post in 1995, said that he intends to return to teaching in the classics department at Cornell.

“At a certain point your reach a time when you go back to your roots,” Rawlings said to a group which included State Sen. Marty Luster (D-125th); Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services; Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin; trustees and members of the Student Assembly.

“I have been for a long time a professor at heart,” Rawlings added.

Chair of the Board of Trustees Harold Tanner ’52 opened the conference with the announcement.

“This is a highly personal decision between Hunter and Elizabeth Rawlings,” Tanner said.

“It is their intention to stay in Ithaca,” he added.

During the 15 months that Rawlings is still in office, “he intends to be a strong and vigorous president,” Tanner continued.

According to Tanner, the timeline that Rawlings laid out for his retirment is “very consistent” with President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes’ announcement of his retirement in 1994.

“He [Rhodes] announced his retirement at the March Board of Trustees meeting [in 1994],” Tanner noted.

The president thanked several people, including the provost, the vice-presidents “who I work with every day,” and members of the Board of Trustees.

He also reaffirmed his commitment to hiring and retaining “the very best faculty in the country.”

Rawlings assured the audience that his decision had nothing to do with health issues.

Peter Meinig ’62, incoming chair of the Board of Trustees, explained how the Board will conduct the search for a new president.

“Harold Tanner, Edwin Morgens [vice chair of the Board of Trustees] and I within the next few days will appoint a search committee,” Meinig said. “Our intention is to reach out to all Cornell constiuenicies. We will talk with alumni … faculty … students.”

Meinig will have the principle responsibility of heading the search committee, which will include students, faculty and employees, but will be composed mostly of Board members.

“Confidentiality is very important,” he said.

The president will not be on the committee, but may help with the search.

“We will probably solicit his list of likely … victims,” Morgens said.

Rawlings follows several Ivy League presidents who have stepped down in the past two years, including Harvard’s Neil L. Rudenstine and Brown’s E. Gordon Gee.

Archived article by Maggie Frank