March 29, 2011

Former President Hunter Rawlings to Lead University Association

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President emeritus Prof. Hunter R. Rawlings III, classics, will leave the University in June to serve as president of the Association of American Universities, an organization that represents the interests of Cornell, 60 other American universities, and two Canadian universities.

“It’s a big challenge, frankly, because this is a difficult time budget-wise,” Rawlings said.  “It’s a very demanding job to try to represent the universities at a time of such fiscal stringency.”

Rawlings will take the job as many research universities, including Cornell, are facing budget cuts from federal and state governments.

“[Rawlings is] a real leader in higher education who understands from experience the relationships between both public and private universities and their communities and government at the state and national level,” Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University and chair of the AAU’s search committee, said in a statement on March 21.

Rawlings said that, while working for the AAU in Washington, D.C., he will try to stress the importance of federal funding for university research.

“The primary issue is always ensuring, or trying to ensure, that the research partnership between the federal government and these universities is healthy and strong,” Rawlings said. “We do our best to say how important this enterprise is to the nation, and to the world, for that matter. These research universities are such a national asset and a world asset.”

Rawlings said that his experience representing Cornell at AAU meetings when he was president of the University will help him in his new position.

Rawlings served as president of Cornell from 1995 to 2003 and as interim president from 2005 to 2006. He also served as the president of the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1995. After Rawlings retired as president of Cornell, he returned to teaching classics.

“Returning to [teaching] after 17 years of high administrative office is a difficult challenge,” said Prof. Hayden Pelliccia, classics, the acting chair of the classics department. “It was plain as day to me and others that Hunter was thrilled to be back in the classroom, and to have gotten back in touch with his old love, the Greek historian Thucydides.”

When Rawlings’ term begins on June 1, he will go on academic leave from Cornell and will not teach any more courses. He said he enjoyed his time at Cornell, both as president and as a professor.

“I’m going to miss Cornell, and I’m going to miss teaching and my own scholarship quite a lot,” Rawlings said. “I just want to say what a tremendous pleasure it has been to be here at Cornell these last sixteen years; to get to know students, and faculty, colleagues and staff really well; to have a chance to teach at such a great university.”

Original Author: Joseph Niczky