Fred Van Sickle Named Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development

Fred Van Sickle has been named the next vice president for alumni affairs and development, President Elizabeth Garrett announced Thursday. He will succeed Charles Phlegar, who departed the University earlier this year. Van Sickle, who is currently the chief development officer at the Institute for Advanced Study — a postdoctoral research center  — will assume his new position on Jan. 18, according to the University. He earned his bachelors’ degree from Lake Forest College in 1983, master of education from Harvard in 1989 and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, according to a University press release.

CALS Dean Susan Henry to Step Down Next Year

The University announced at the end of last month that Susan Henry, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will step down from her position at the end of this upcoming academic year. Henry, who has spent nine years at the helm of Cornell’s second largest college, will devote more time to teaching and research in her current appointment as professor of molecular biology and genetics.

During Henry’s tenure, the dean oversaw the creation of the department of applied economics and management, the creation of a teaching winery, and the large-scale renovation of Mann Library, according to the University. She also sat on the State Council on Food Policy under Gov. David Paterson (D) and the Agricultural Advisory Council under former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

C.U. Sees Endowment Decline by 27 Percent

While Cornell was able to largely avoid the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme that cost other universities millions of dollars in losses, Cornell’s finances were not invulnerable to the economic meltdown that has gripped the country. According to The Cornell Alumni Magazine, Cornell’s endowment, which was valued at $6.1 billion on June 30, 2008, fell 27 percent during the second half of 2008.
Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding in an interview on CNBC, considered the current economic status “the perfect financial storm.” He explained the complexities and the uniqueness of the current situation by adding, “This is a much broader problem with many more components at one time than what many of us have historically seen.”

C.U. Names Interim Engineering Dean

The University announced yesterday that Prof. Christopher Ober, material science and engineering, will serve as interim dean of the College of Engineering, succeeding current dean Kent Fuchs, who was selected last month to become Cornell provost at the start of next year.
“[Ober] is an exemplary leader and faculty member at Cornell,” Interim Provost David Harris stated in a press release. “He is well respected by his peers and he is known for attention to detail. He will be deft in running the College of Engineering while the University proceeds in the dean search.”
Ober will serve as the interim dean until the University finds a permanent replacement for Fuchs.

Fuchs Prepares for Term as Provost

In less than two months, Engineering Dean Kent Fuchs will take over as the University’s 15th provost. In a meeting with The Sun yesterday, Fuchs (pronounced Fox) spoke about the state of the University, his focus on rankings, his plan to ensure diversity at Cornell and his background in divinity.
The Sun: What do you see as the responsibilities of the provost?

Skorton Responds to Budget Cuts

President David Skorton outlined several measures the University will take to combat state budget cuts and revenue losses resulting from the Wall Street crisis in a e-mail sent to the Cornell community yesterday. Though the long-term effects of the current state of the economy will not be known for several years, actions will be taken immediately in anticipation of further cuts and continued losses.
“While we cannot be certain about the dimensions, depth and duration of the difficulty, we are confident Cornell is in a good position to adjust operations and budget to address a loss in revenue in the wake of the financial crisis, relying on the institutional expertise and commitment of faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends,” Skorton stated.

Skorton Promises Job Safety to University Staff

President David J. Skorton gave his annual address to staff yesterday at Barton Hall. The speech came in the middle of the Energy Fair, whose organizers took a lunch break while University personnel gathered to hear Skorton discuss the state of the University and how staff will be affected by the recent economic crisis. The address was sponsored by the Employee Assembly, an elected body that represents Cornell staff.
Kicking off the staff meeting was Brian Cornell, chair of the Employee Assembly, who welcomed the audience and introduced Mary George Opperman, vice president of human resources. Opperman discussed her personal concerns over how staff and the University will fare amidst the financial turmoil.