Harold Tanner, a 1952 graduate of Cornell and president of Tanner & Co. Inc. of New York, was unanimously elected chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees at its first meeting of 1997 in New York City on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Tanner's two-year term is effective July 1. He succeeds Stephen H. Weiss, a 1957 Cornell graduate who has served as chairman since 1989.
"I am honored to have been asked to serve as chair of this great university and to succeed Stephen Weiss, an inspiring leader and devoted Cornellian," Tanner said. "I look forward to working with President Hunter Rawlings, members of the board and all those who care about Cornell. We will work together to anticipate the challenges and changes that will affect higher education in the next millennium, to ensure our beloved Cornell a prominent position in the ranks of outstanding universities."
Weiss said, "In selecting Harold Tanner as chairman-elect, the board of trustees has chosen a man superbly prepared to assume the responsibilities of the chairmanship. He is a man of great judgment and integrity, possessing a broad knowledge of our complex university, and an abiding love and passion for the institution. I applaud the board's choice and congratulate the board and Harold. I am confident the team of Tanner and Rawlings will provide Cornell strong leadership as it approaches the next century."
Cornell President Hunter Rawlings added his own congratulations: "I am delighted that Harold Tanner will be the next chairman of our board of trustees. He has been a superb leader in every responsibility he has undertaken. He and his wife, Nicki, have been a tremendous source of strength and encouragement for Elizabeth and me since our first interactions with Cornell, and I look forward to working even more closely with him in the days ahead."
Tanner has served as a Cornell trustee since 1982. He currently is a vice chairman of the board and has been on the Executive Committee since 1986. One of Cornell's most successful fund-raisers, he served as co-chair of the $1.5 billion Cornell Campaign, which when it concluded in December 1995 set a record for the most money raised in a university campaign. He also is chairman of the board's Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development.
Tanner, who received his bachelor of science degree from Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1952 and his master's in business administration from Harvard in 1956, has spent his entire career in the investment banking business. He founded Tanner & Co., a private investment banking company, in New York City in 1987. Formerly he was a managing director of Salomon Brothers Inc., where he had responsibility for the Corporate Finance Department. He currently serves as a director of TIG Inc.
He served as vice chair of the Presidential Search Committee that selected Rawlings to be the 10th president of Cornell and has been a longtime member of the Investment Committee, serving a term as vice chair. He was appointed to the Board of Overseers of the Cornell University Medical College in 1996. He is a former member of the Advisory Councils of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and a former chair of the Tower Club and Quadrangle Society.
As part of the Cornell Campaign he and his wife, Nicki, a 1957 Wellesley graduate, endowed the Harold Tanner Deanship of Arts and Sciences. The Tanners previously had established the Pauline and Irving Tanner Scholarship Fund in the College of Arts and Sciences in honor of his parents. The Tanners have been recognized by the Board of Trustees as foremost benefactors of Cornell.
In addition to his Cornell activities, Tanner is chairman of the board of trustees of the American Jewish Committee; a trustee and treasurer of the Russell Sage Foundation; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was on the Board of the Associates of Harvard Business School and is a founder of the Volunteer Consulting Group Inc. He was honored with the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award in 1992 and the Herbert Lehman Award of the American Jewish Committee in 1995.
Tanner has three children, including Karen, a 1983 Cornell graduate, and seven grandsons. He lives in New York City and Scarsdale, N.Y.