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Elizabeth Garrett, First Female President of Cornell, Dies at 52

Resource type: News

The New York Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

The Atlantic Philanthropies express our profound sadness at the passing of Cornell University President Elizabeth Garrett. Beth’s leadership of Cornell, the alma mater of Atlantic’s Founding Chairman Chuck Feeney, was extraordinary, even in her short tenure, and will endure. As the largest single recipient of our philanthropic support, Cornell has a special place in Atlantic’s work and legacy. Our deepest condolences go out to Beth’s family and the entire Cornell community. 

Elizabeth GarrettElizabeth Garrett, a lawyer and scholar who was the first woman to be president of Cornell University, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan, only eight months after starting the post. She was 52.

The cause was colon cancer, the university said.

In her short time as president, Ms. Garrett spearheaded an effort to group Cornell’s three accredited business programs into a College of Business. She had succeeded David J. Skorton, who stepped down to head the Smithsonian Institution.

Ms. Garrett announced on Feb. 8 that she recently learned she had colon cancer and that she would undergo aggressive treatment. The university’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff, was later named acting president.

Ms. Garrett was previously the provost at the University of Southern California from 2010 until 2014. She was also the first woman to hold that job.“Being the first woman president of Cornell, just as I was the first woman provost at U.S.C., puts me in the position of being a role model — not just for young women, but also for men,” she told the magazine Times Higher Education in 2014. “It is important for women and men to see strong and capable women in positions of leadership, so we understand that certain characteristics such as gender and race do not determine how well people do in those offices.”

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