November 20, 2014

Cornell Establishes Committees to Replace Murphy, Fuchs

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Updated Friday with additional information

The University announced the formation of two search committees Thursday morning to replace two of its departing administrators, the latest in the changing landscape of Cornell’s senior leadership.

The groups will seek to find replacements for former Provost Kent Fuchs and Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, vice president for student and academic services. Fuchs, who will become the president of the University of Florida in January, left Cornell last week, while Murphy will step down from her post in July.

Both positions are expected to be filled by the start of the next academic year, according to Joel Malina, vice president for university relations.

He added that the committees, overall, will seek candidates “who can demonstrate appropriate experience, as well as the right demeanor, to guide President-Elect [Elizabeth] Garrett and the rest of the administration to the successful leadership of the University.”

President David Skorton, who will also leave Cornell in July to helm the Smithsonian Institution, said both the provost and newly renamed “vice president for student and campus life” positions are “critical to the success of the University.”

“I am grateful to the members of both search committees for their dedication to finding and recruiting the strongest candidates for these positions,” Skorton said in a statement.

The two individuals selected to become administrators will also have “substantial influence on Cornell’s future direction,” President-Elect Garratt said in a statement.

“We look forward to identifying inspiring and visionary people for these key positions,” said Garrett, who is chairing the Provost Search Committee.

Kathryn Boor ’80, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will serve as the chair for finding Murphy’s replacement, according to the University.

Each of the search committees will include faculty, staff and students, a fact that Malina, said is important to garner information from different aspects of the campus community.

“Different members of our community have different perspectives that we want to make sure we take into consideration,” Malina said. “We want to make sure that when these individuals are hired, they are the individuals that meet all the needs of their roles.”

Currently the provost position, which oversees academic programs, is being held by Interim Provost Harry Katz, who was dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations before being tapped to work in Day Hall.

The vice president for student and campus life, which is currently titled “vice president for student and academic services,” will oversee nearly 4,000 staff and student employees and a wide breadth of undergraduate and graduate services, including housing, dining, athletics and health services, according to the University. Cornell announced that Murphy, who served in the position for more than 20 years, would retire in September.

Cornell also named the search firms that would be conducting the two searches. For the provost position, firm Spencer Stuart, which aided in the search for Cornell’s 13th president this year, will again assist Cornell in replacing one of its top administrators, according to the University. Firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, will assist in the search for the vice president position.

Although Malina said that changes in leadership can be “unsettling,” he added that administrators are working to ensure there is a smooth transition between the changes in leadership.

“We are very much, among the senior leadership, talking quite frequently about the need for smooth transition, coordination and close communication over the coming months,” he said. “We are engaging with the shared governance groups to make sure they are part of this conversation as well.”