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Cornell's New Prez

Initial thoughts on the announcement that Cornell's 12th president will be David Skorton:

  • Wow -- they paid how much to a search firm to give us another president from Iowa? Other than that, I can't really pass judgment. He seems to have impeccable management credentials, which is what the trustees seemed to believe President Lehman lacked.
  • There's now no question what the trustees have in mind for Cornell's future. Skorton has masterminded a large capital campaign and -- somewhat unique for a Cornell president -- he is a scientist. I see no better way to send a message that Cornell wants to bolster its reputation as a top scientific research institution. My only question is whether that comes at the expense of our uneven, faltering humanities departments. If Skorton's impressive jazz accomplishments mean anything, though, there may be hope.
  • On the other hand, I wonder if I'm not being cynical enough. Skorton is the perfect man to move Cornell toward being a top-notch scientific institution -- and who better to accomplish this than someone with surface humanities credentials (being a jazz musician)? Did the trustees realize that this concession to the arts would make their overall agenda all the more palatable (or easier to slip past the faculty)?

Andy Guess | Posted on January 22, 2006 (#)

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