October 17, 2003

After The First 100 Days, Lehman To Lay Out Vision

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The empty bookshelves and nearly-bare office walls of President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 make it seem as though the former student just moved in. Even his couch and chairs are conveniently made for a six-foot, seven-inch-tall former president, Hunter R. Rawlings III. Lehman is five feet, nine inches tall.

And though he has not yet made his mark in interior design, Lehman has already started to make his impression on the school which he graduated from over 26 years ago as a mathematics major.

Even with some students having trouble putting a name and face on the University’s eleventh president, last Thursday marked Lehman’s one hundredth day in office. Lehman said that during his first couple of months, he wanted to engage in discussions with many groups and individuals around campus to help address concerns and establish goals for his presidency.

“I intend to use this year as a serious study and a refresher for me about Cornell, and a period [in which] I hope to encourage Cornellians everywhere to engage a set of fundamental questions about our long-term direction,” Lehman said. “I wanted the first 100 days to be a time when we could plan how to frame those questions and how to nurture that kind of engagement and we decided that the inaugural week was the right time to launch that conversation.”

In attempting to gather as much information about the school as possible, Lehman has “done a dizzying amount” of activities, according to Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin. Even Lehman admits that “it’s kind of an amazing calendar to look at.” Martin said that his goal was not just to get acquainted to today’s Cornell, but also to have University and community members become comfortable with him.

“One of his primary goals is to make himself available and to get to know faculty, students, staff and alumni,” Martin said. “[But] in addition to learning about us, he’s also made it a priority to make himself available to let us get to know him.”

Lehman has held a seminar in High Rise 5 and also answered student questions at a larger forum at Uris Auditorium on Sept. 15. He has also participated in a smaller Antigone discussion section with freshmen and has attended every college’s faculty meeting.

“I have been very impressed with his interactions with students