September 21, 2015

Mentors Honor Garrett at Inauguration Dinner

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President Emeritus David Skorton delivers remarks on Elizabeth Garrett at her inauguration dinner in Barton Hall Thursday night. (Tyler Alicea / Sun Editor in Chief)

Hundreds of Cornellians, dignitaries and friends of President Elizabeth Garrett gathered in Barton Hall on to honor her at the inauguration dinner Thursday evening.

Nearly 550 attended the event, mingling during a reception before being seated at the dinner, where Garrett’s mentors spoke highly of her accomplishments.

After a performance from Cornell Bhangra, Board of Trustees Chair Robert Harrison ’76 addressed the crowd, praising Garrett for bringing “together the perfect blend of academic accomplishment, public service and the experience” needed for running Cornell.

“President Garrett, we wish you good health, good judgment and bold vision. Go Big Red and welcome to Cornell,” he offered in a toast.

Former Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.), who is the current president of the University of Oklahoma where Garrett earned her undergraduate degree; C.L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, where Garrett was provost; and President Emeritus David J. Skorton also offered their remarks, speaking highly of Garrett.

“As we celebrate Cornell’s new president and all she has already brought and will bring to this university, let us also recommit ourselves — each one of us — to Cornell’s enduring values and join with Beth Garrett in reshaping them as our students and our world require,” said Skorton, who left Cornell in June to become Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. “That is the promise of Beth Garrett’s presidency and also the tradition and promise of Cornell.”

After Skorton and her mentors spoke, Garrett took the stage and spoke of the need for Cornell to continue to innovate and “reach greater academic excellence.”

“Cornell now stands in a crucial point in its history and in the history of higher education. If we have particular strengths that can propel us to greater heights and we have the history of boldness that can sustain us in a fast-changing world, we cannot let this moment pass through inaction or timidity,” she said.

The event concluded with a performance from the Bissett Jazz Quintet and the singing of the Alma Mater by The Chordials.

Joel Malina, vice president for University Relations, and Gretchen Ritter ’83, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, held Thursday’s event. Guests were served mixed greens and a beef fillet with parsnip puree, roasted potatoes and a mushroom demi-glace, as well as a raspberry-lemon drop genoise for dessert.