Cornell University President David J. Skorton will be leaving at the end of June 2015 to lead the Smithsonian Institution, Cornell announced this afternoon. His appointment as Secretary of the national museum and research complex was approved on Sunday.
Cornell President David J. Skorton. Photo provided by Cornell."The Smithsonian is one of our true national treasures," Skorton said in a message to members of the Cornell community, "and I am honored to have the opportunity to help shape its cultural, artistic, historic, scientific and public engagement endeavors." He and his wife, Robin Davisson, are in Washingon, D.C. today for the announcement.
"I will continue all the duties and activities of my Cornell office through this and the next entire academic year," Skorton says, "advancing the full array of university initiatives, celebrating our sesquicentennial and ensuring a successful transition to the next president." The University will kick off a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary this fall.
In addition to serving as Cornell's president, Skorton has held a faculty appointment at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and in Biomedical Engineering on the Ithaca campus. The board-certified cardiologist is also an accomplished jazz musician. Dr. Davisson, too, holds a faculty appointment in molecular physiology, and will continue at Cornell through June 2015.
Skorton was president of the University of Iowa for three years, and a faculty member there for 26 years, before taking over at Cornell in 2006. Hunter R. Rawlings III had also served as president at the University of Iowa before coming to Cornell in 1995.
“In selecting David, the Smithsonian has acknowledged what we at Cornell already know – that David is that rare leader who can guide a great institution to even greater achievement," Robert Harrison, the chairman of Cornell's board of trustees, said in a statement. "They could not have made a better choice.”