April 6, 2014

Trustees Establish Search Committee for Skorton’s Successor

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The Cornell Board of Trustees announced the formation of a Presidential Search Committee on March 28, which will nominate President David Skorton’s successor.

Skorton will step down from his current position at the University to serve as the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest museum and research complex — in June 2015. His departure from Cornell was announced March 10.

The committee — comprised of 19 members spanning numerous Cornell constituencies — was appointed by Robert Harrison ’76, chair of Cornell’s Board of Trustees, according to a University release.

Representatives come from the Board of Trustees, faculty, undergraduate and graduate student bodies, University employees, the Weill Cornell Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences, senior administration and alumni.

Harrison also appointed Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees, to lead the committee. He cited Zubrow’s years of experience on the board and involvement in the past two presidential searches as reasons for her appointment as committee chair.

“She participated in the selection of our 12th president, and David Skorton has proven to be a great leader for Cornell,” Harrison said in the release. “I am excited to see this search get underway, and I look forward to an inclusive and uniquely Cornell search process.”

Chairmen Emeriti Peter Meinig ’61 and Harold Tanner ’52 will serve as advisers to the committee, according to the press release.

Additionally, the Presidential Search Committee has formed several subcommittees to increase outreach to and obtain input from the campus community — including faculty, students, staff and alumni — according to the University. Open meetings will be held by members of these subcommittees in Ithaca and at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

The open meetings will gather input on the ideal qualities the next president should have to carry through the University’s outlined goals and to identify “the type of individual” that will be able bring “his or her vision” into the context, the committee’s website said.

The meetings will also focus on identifying challenges the University faces — difficulties that “need to be part” of the incoming president’s priorities.

Zubrow outlined some of the main questions that would remain at the forefront of the presidential search.

“Some of the questions we will be asking are, ‘What are the current initiatives that have been critical to Cornell’s success, and what are some of the opportunities and challenges going forward?’” Zubrow said. “And therefore, based on those assessments, what do we think are the key criteria for the person who would assume the presidency?”