October 8, 2008

Former Cornell President Rhodes Joins New Saudi University’s Board of Trustees

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Former Cornell President Frank Rhodes’s newest venture will bring him far from Cayuga’s Waters. Rhodes, who served as Cornell’s ninth president from 1977 until 1995, has been named to the board of trustees of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, according to the University.
The new school, which will open in less than a year, describes itself as benefiting “the region and the world.”
“KAUST is the realization of a decades-long vision of the Custodian of the Twoo Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,” according to the school’s website.
The new school will train 250-350 graduate students in its first class with a faculty that may approach 400 members.
KAUST was conceived of and financed by King Abdullah, who also serves as the country’s Prime Minister. His initial contribution to the new school was a $10 billion endowment, which nearly doubles Cornell’s current funds.
Rhodes told the University that KAUST seeks to help the Saudi people in a time, “when petroleum is no longer the dominant basis of the economy.”
Rhodes first became involved with the venture when he was asked to draw up its charter and bylaws. Afterwards, he served on a committee that helped to hire KAUST’s top administrators.
“I’m too old for this sort of thing,” Rhodes told the University, “But I’m really very honored to be a part of it.”
Many describe Rhodes’s tenure at Cornell as one marked by increased diversity on campus, completion of a successful $1.5 billion capital campaign, increased research funding and the construction of much of the University’s modern infrastructure.
On his retirement, Rhodes was the longest serving Ivy League president. Since 1995, Rhodes has served on a number of higher education committees, foundations and government organizations.