January 26, 2006

Fundraising, Life Sciences to Define Skorton's Presidency

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Jet-setting around the world, shaking hands with famous alumni and acting as the poster child for one of the world’s most highly regarded institutions of higher education are perks that would make nearly anyone want to be president of Cornell University. But top administrators and former President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 agree that those are just part of the job, and any person interested in filling the post atop this ivory tower should be ready for a challenge.

President-elect David J. Skorton will face numerous difficult decisions when he takes office on July 1. As Cornell pushes ahead with its New Life Sciences Initiative (NLSI), global expansion projects, massive facilities renovation and new construction and a multi-billion-dollar capital campaign, Skorton will have to balance the University’s vast curriculum, raise significant funds quickly and generally give the school a clear direction with which to continue through the 21st century.

Jim Mazza ’88, interim campaign director for the capital campaign, regularly campaign director for special projects, said both interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Lehman were heavily involved in the NLSI and he expects that the new president will be as well.

“Among his many responsibilities, fundraising for the Life Sciences