Don M. Randel, provost of Cornell since 1995 and a faculty member since 1968, has been recommended to the board of trustees of the University of Chicago to serve as its 12th president, the University of Chicago announced today (Dec. 9, 1999).
The announcement was made in Chicago by Edgar Jannotta, chair of the University of Chicago board and of the search committee that selected Randel to succeed Hugo Sonnenschein as president. The board will meet Monday, Dec. 13, to confirm the recommendation.
"The board of trustees of the University of Chicago has made a superb choice," said Cornell President Hunter Rawlings. "Don Randel's leadership will be felt not only at Chicago, but throughout the nation. He has been an exemplary member of the Cornell community since he first joined the Department of Music as an assistant professor in 1968. Rising through the professorial ranks, he was elected the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1991, and I have been privileged to have him by my side over the last 4-1/2 years as provost. He has been both a wonderful colleague and a close friend. Cornell has benefited enormously from his intelligence, integrity, energy, powers of persuasion and commitment to students."
Rawlings added: "I will miss Don and his wife Carol here in Ithaca, but we look forward to working with them in the years ahead. They are and will be a great team."
A search for a successor to Randel in the provost's position will begin "in the immediate days ahead," Rawlings announced.
Randel commented on his new endeavor: "I have spent almost all of my adult life at Cornell, first and foremost as a member of the faculty. It has made me what I am as an academic because of the unique quality of its intellectual fresh air. My affection for Cornell is thus profound
and my affection for and debt to friends and colleagues here is very deep. Those friends and colleagues include very many members of the faculty, the staff, and the alumni body.
"For all of these reasons," he added, "it is not easy for me to leave Cornell, and I could only leave it for another institution that is in its own way equally unique. The University of Chicago is such an institution and one whose particular devotion to intellectual ideals without compromise or apology I share. Carol and I are going away, but we are not going to disappear. We expect to keep our membership in the Cornell and Tompkins County families very much alive, even if in somewhat different ways."
Throughout his 31 years at Cornell, Randel has been an active participant on numerous university boards, task forces and committees. He chaired a task force on undergraduate education involved in Cornell's strategic planning. He also served on the Committee on the Curriculum and Undergraduate Education for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Humanities Council and the University Appeals Board.
In 1998, Cornell began to implement recommendations of a Task Force on the Division of the Biological Sciences, which was commissioned by Randel to plan the future of the biological sciences at Cornell and to strengthen the program. He also helped to develop the Cornell Research Scholars Program in 1996 to recruit the best and brightest undergraduate students by offering special research opportunities and financial support.
Randel provided leadership to the College of Arts and Sciences on thorny issues such as its sexual harassment policy and minority studies. He led the development of new, universitywide procedures for responding to complaints of sexual harassment that were adopted in 1996. He was instrumental in drafting a new campus housing policy designed to improve undergraduate life on campus in 1996.
On a light note, Randel sponsored an undergraduate competition in March 1998 to determine the exact composition of a large pumpkin perched on the top of Cornell's McGraw Tower, a prank that gained national media attention. He even allowed himself to be hoisted aloft 173 feet on a chilly March day to retrieve the pumpkin from the tower.
A musicologist who earned M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, where he also received his undergraduate degree, Randel also has held the Given Foundation Professorship of Musicology at Cornell since 1990. His specialty is the music of the Middle Ages. He has served as editor of the frequently referenced guide The New Harvard Dictionary of Music and the Harvard .Concise Dictionary of Music, as well as the Harvard Dictionary of Musicians. Other published works include "The Canons of the Musicological Toolbox" in Disciplining Music and "Crossing Over with RubŽn Blades" in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (1991), for which he served as editor-in-chief from 1972 to 1974.