Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our New President

As a land-grant college, Cornell was founded to be co-educational, a place "where any person can find instruction in any study." Despite this auspicious beginning, it is actually the sixth of the seven Ivy League universities to hire a woman to lead it. Harvard hired Drew Gilpin Faust in 2007. U Penn has had three women in a row: Claire Fagin (interim) from 1993-94, Judith Seitz Rodin from 1994-2004, and Amy Gutmann ever since. Ruth Simmons ruled Brown from 2001 to 2012. Shirley Tilghman ruled Princeton from 2001 to 2013. Hanna Holborn Gray was acting president at Yale for a year in 1977. Only Dartmouth is a holdout, and they at least broke the white male barrier when they hired Jim Young Kim in 2009.

So the hiring of Elizabeth Garrett is a big deal here. She has bounced around the country much as David Skorton did, although where he went from West to Midwest to East, she went from Oklahoma to UVA to UofC to USC and back east again. Her specialties include the federal budget process and direct democracy, which has made her the go-to gal for many political oversight committees and panels. In addition to her primary appointment in the law school and as provost at USC, she has secondary appointments in the business school and school of public policy as well as a "courtesy appointment" in the Annenberg School.

She is, in other words, hot stuff. She attended law school with a friend of Paul's, so we await the dish from that. Apparently she won't take over until July of 2015, because Skorton would like to preside over the sesquicentenniel. Then he leaves to make $795,000 at the Smithsonian.

O's questions were: "Will she lower tuition? Will she give me a job? How can I be president?" I said, "No, maybe, and check out her bio." Impressive.

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