December 6, 2002

Presidential Search May End Over Break

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Who will be Cornell’s next president? As the semester comes to a close, only one thing remains almost certain: he or she will be shorter than current President Hunter R. Rawlings III, who stands proud at six feet, seven inches.

Rawlings announced in April that his term would end on June 30, 2003. He will continue to teach at Cornell in the classics department. The Presidential Search Committee is still at work deliberating over Cornell’s next president. Members of the committee are not allowed to divulge any information on the search’s progress.

The search for Cornell’s eleventh president is on a similar schedule to the president search in 1994 which resulted in Rawlings’ appointment. The announcement of Rawlings’ presidency was made on Dec. 10, 1994. The current search began in April, while the 1994 search began a month earlier. Members of the committee have previously stated their intention to complete the search process sometime this month but no further information on the timetable is available. Based on the last presidential search’s timetable and the start date of the current search, the announcement will most likely come toward the end of this month.

According to Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, “They’re in a quiet period now.”

The announcement of the new president will be made “in due course,” he said in late October.

There has been some speculation that the search committee is considering New York political figures, such as state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City public schools.

“The operative word is ‘no comment,'” said Peter C. Meinig ’62, chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the search committee, when asked about Levy in an August interview with The Sun.

Meinig also commented on the desired qualities of candidates in the interview. Since Cornell is an institution with highly varied interests including the Weill Medical College, lobbyists in Washington and the land-grant mission, there is a question of the experience in these diverse areas required by the committee.

“We haven’t tried to rank qualities or experience, which are important considerations,” Meinig said. “I think the key is to have a person with the ability to understand these areas.”

Meinig declined in a recent request to add any comment on the committee’s progress.

“The Presidential Search Committee will not comment on progress in the search except to say that we are excited about the quality of the talent pool out there and gratified [by] the interest of potential candidates in coming to Cornell,” stated Edwin H. Morgens ’63, chair of the search committee and vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, in an e-mail. “If we were to disclose much more than that we would run the risk of having quality prospects drop out of the process for fear that their identity and interest in Cornell might be disclosed at their present institution, whatever that might be.”

Morgens added, “The search is going well and the Committee is pleased with its progress.”

“We’re not really setting ourselves a time,” Barkemeyer said. “We want to find a quality president” rather than rush the process, she added.

Archived article by Andy Guess