June 11, 2005

Lehman Resigns Citing Differences With Board of Trustees

Print More

President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 announced his resignation, effective June 30, during the State of the University address Saturday morning. Lehman spoke in front of alumni who returned to Ithaca for reunion weekend.

The announcement came as a shock to alumni and students alike.

President Emeritus Hunter R. Rawlings III has agreed to act as interim president until a replacement is selected. Rawlings served as Cornell’s 10th president from 1995 to 2003.

The search process for a new president generally lasts about a year.

“I am proud of what Cornell has achieved during my tenure as president. Over the past few months, it has become apparent that the Board of Trustees and I have different approaches to how the University can best realize its long-term vision. In light of our differences, it is best for the University that I step aside. I know that this remarkable university will continue to prosper and move forward under different leadership. As a Cornell graduate, I remain deeply devoted to the University, its faculty and students,” Lehman said in his speech.

Rawlings told The Sun that he foresaw no major changes during his interim presidency.

“The Board of Trustees has asked me to serve as interim president, and though the circumstances are clearly difficult, I am happy to serve in this position until the next president is chosen,” he said. “We just want to make sure the deans are able to continue with their initiatives and students will continue to be well-served in their education.”

Lehman — Cornell’s first alumnus president — served for only two years, the shortest tenure in University history. His administration was marked by several initiatives, including the Call to Engagement, a record year in fundraising, a 17.4 percent applications increase across the University, and a strong push to improve Cornell’s image both at home and across the world.

After a year sabbatical in which he will be a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., Lehman will return as a tenured professor in Cornell’s law school.

With additional reporting by Erica Temel, Michael Morisy, and Eric Finkelstein.

Archived article by Sun Staff