Skip to main content

President Skorton announces formation of Provost Search Committee and names interim provost

Media Contact

Simeon Moss

President David J. Skorton has announced the formation of a Provost Search Committee of faculty, staff and student representatives to recommend, from within the Cornell community, a successor to Carolyn (Biddy) Martin, who will be leaving Cornell this summer to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When Martin steps down Aug. 31, she will have been the longest serving provost in Cornell history.

The search committee will be chaired by Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy Martha Haynes and will have the following members: Harry Katz, dean of the ILR School and J. Sheinkman Professor in Collective Bargaining; Carlos Bustamante, assistant professor of biological statistics and computational biology; Paulette Clancy, professor and the William C. Hooey Director of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Robert Frank, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and professor of economics; Sandra Greene, professor of history; Charles Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development; Ryan Lavin, president of the Student Assembly; Michelle Leinfelder, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly; and Brian Cornell, chair of the Employee Assembly. The committee will solicit nominations and applications this summer, and recommend finalists to Skorton by mid-fall.

"It is a great responsibility to select the chief academic officer of Cornell, an institution that has guided American education since its own founding," said Skorton. "I am grateful that Martha Haynes and her colleagues have agreed enthusiastically to take on this role, and I look forward to the success of their work."

Haynes said she welcomed the opportunity to lead the search for "the second most important administrative position at this complex institution."

She continued, "The provost is such an important part of Cornell life, and unlike many universities and colleges Cornell selects a provost from its own ranks because there are so many competent and committed leaders already on our campus. An important part of the search will be finding someone who complements the president's leadership style. I am truly honored to be part of this process."

Skorton also said that Deputy Provost David Harris will serve as interim provost during the transition starting Sept. 1. Commenting on the news of his appointment, Harris praised Martin's eight-year tenure as provost and said: "It is an honor to be appointed interim provost of Cornell University. I will strive to advance the academic priorities that have been established by the faculty and endorsed by the academic leadership. My term as interim provost will be marked by steady progress. I do not have any interest in being considered as the next provost. This is not the right time in my life or in my career to pursue the position."

The provost acts as the university's chief academic officer and serves as the president's first deputy officer. The provost oversees all academic programs and units of the university, other than those reporting to the provost for medical affairs. The provost also is responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, tenure and promotion, and academic and research initiatives.

For further information about the search process, contact Laurie Summers, director of operations for the Office of the President, at