Boris Tsang/Sun File Photo

Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman speaks at the Employee Assembly in 2017.

October 26, 2021

Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman to Depart Cornell After 25 Years

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Come June, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman is set to leave Cornell, departing after a 25-year career at the University.

Throughout her time at Cornell, Opperman has overseen a range of topics, including labor relations, economic development and professional women’s rights. Currently, Opperman manages the Division of Human Resources, the Office of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX and the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. 

Now, Opperman is seeking “one more adventure,” planning to find opportunities outside of the University.   

“I decided that if I was going to do something new, I had to set a date and put a time frame on it,” Opperman said in the release. “There is always something new and interesting at Cornell.”

She began her professional career at Harvard University as director of employee services before transferring to Cornell in 1996. Over a decade ago, Opperman considered leaving her position at Cornell for a different career opportunity –– but with the impending economic downturn in 2008, she chose to stay. Since then, Opperman has continued to find her place at Cornell through crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Mary’s leadership has been transformational for human resources at Cornell,” said President Martha Pollack in a University press release. “Through her care, compassion for, and attention to the needs of our employees, the experience of working at Cornell has also been transformed, for tens of thousands of people.” 

Throughout her extensive career, Opperman has received many accolades, including an award for Excellence from the Tompkins County Foundation Board in 2008. She is a fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources.

The University will conduct a national search for Opperman’s successor before her departure.  

“When I think about the last 25 years, I always come back to the people here — the incredible dedication that people show through good times, and challenging times,” Opperman said. “I am so grateful for all of the opportunities Cornell has afforded me and for the many enduring relationships I have built.”