Will depart Cornell June 2015, following sesquicentennial
David J. Skorton, Cornell University’s 12th president, has been named the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. His appointment was approved by a vote of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on March 9. Skorton will be president and continue all the duties and activities of his office at Cornell through June 30, 2015. At that time he and his wife, Professor Robin Davisson, will relocate to Washington, D.C.
“This is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for David to lead one of the world’s truly great institutions,” said Robert Harrison, chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees. “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. They could not have made a better choice.”
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the Smithsonian Institution, one of our true national treasures,” said Skorton. “The mission of the Smithsonian – ‘The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge’ – resonates deeply with me and mirrors the collective mission of the remarkably talented community of scholars, students and staff with whom I have had the privilege to collaborate at Cornell these past eight years. While I look forward to beginning my new assignment, I am delighted that the timing will enable me to commemorate Cornell’s sesquicentennial as president.”
“David’s tenure at Cornell has been stellar,” Harrison said. “When he departs next year, he will leave Cornell in a historically strong position, having regained its financial stability, elevated its rankings across key disciplines, increased student access, and greatly expanded its presence in New York City and around the world. All of us at Cornell look forward to the next 15 months of David’s presidency as he presides over the celebration of our rich history and helps to prepare the university and his successor for its exciting future.”
Harrison will soon appoint a search committee to lead the effort to select the next Cornell president.
Skorton became Cornell’s president July 1, 2006. He holds faculty appointments as professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and in Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. He is also past chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum, an independent, nonprofit organization of industry CEOs, leaders of colleges and universities, and foundation executives; life member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and member of the board of directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges. A Master of the American College of Cardiology, he has also been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Before coming to Cornell, Skorton was president of the University of Iowa for three years (2003-06) and a faculty member at Iowa for 26 years.
A seasoned administrator, board-certified cardiologist, biomedical researcher, musician, and advocate for the arts and humanities, Skorton earned his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 and an M.D. in 1974, both from Northwestern University. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.