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University Counsel James Mingle to retire June 30

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Melissa Osgood
James Mingle

University Counsel James Mingle has announced his retirement from Cornell following 20 years of service, effective June 30.

As university counsel, with offices in Ithaca and New York City, Mingle supervises and directs all legal services performed on the university’s behalf, fielding legal, governance and risk issues encompassing academic programs and policies, research and clinical-care enterprises, and all business and personnel aspects of a large not-for-profit corporation.

Mingle also serves as secretary of the corporation and secretary of the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

“During his two decades of extraordinary service to Cornell, Jim Mingle has provided astute counsel to the university on a variety of complex legal issues as well as invaluable guidance to its presidents and members of the board of trustees,” said President Elizabeth Garrett. “I’m grateful to Jim for his assistance during my transition to Cornell and pleased that we will have the benefit of his wisdom and expertise through the end of the academic year.”

Said board of trustees Chairman Robert Harrison ’76: “For 20 years, Jim has worked tirelessly at Cornell to defend academic judgments regarding student admissions and faculty tenure, preserve university autonomy, advance affirmative action, combat sexual harassment, and protect the university’s intellectual property and patented discoveries created for public benefit. I’ve had the privilege of being one of several board chairs to work with Jim, and his long-standing commitment to this university has been remarkable.”

Mingle said it has been an honor to work with many dedicated trustees over the years as well as the board chairs, overseers, Cornell presidents, and administrative and academic leaders. He offered particular thanks to his legal and board support team.

“It has been a privilege to be surrounded by a superb group of professionals – several who’ve served the university longer than I have,” Mingle said. “They bring dedication and competence to everything they do, whether it’s reviewing agreements, shaping policies, giving advice, navigating government rules or planning a board meeting.”

Mingle said his office also handles litigation – everything from employment and student disputes to personal injury actions, to patent infringement claims and Internet defamation cases. He said over the past 20 years, more than 1,000 litigation cases involving the university have been concluded – 98 percent successfully for Cornell. In the great majority of those cases, the university prevailed in court, Mingle noted, and the rest were satisfactorily settled.

The bulk of this litigation is handled in-house, Mingle added, something he noted is rare among university legal offices but has benefits in cost, institutional knowledge and counseling to avoid future litigation.

Cornell President Emeritus David Skorton credited Mingle with developing the framework for important international agreements, including those governing Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, and helping to lay the legal groundwork for Cornell’s winning bid for the Cornell Tech campus in New York City. “Jim is the consummate counsel and colleague,” Skorton said.

“Jim has brought top-notch professionalism and years of wise advice to his roles as university counsel, secretary of the corporation and secretary of the board of trustees,” said Peter Meinig, chairman emeritus of the Cornell Board of Trustees. “Through careful guidance of Cornell’s policies, operations and governance, he helped broaden the university’s reach and academic influence in the United States and abroad.”

“Jim was one of my first appointments at Cornell, and he has had a wonderful career there, marked by many first-rate achievements,” said President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings. “He led several important efforts to protect faculty members’ intellectual property, and he helped to draw the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Ithaca campus closer together.”

Mingle also chaired the university’s Risk Management Council for several years and holds an adjunct appointment at Cornell Law School, where he teaches the Law and Higher Education seminar. He came to Cornell in 1995 from a similar post at the University of Virginia; he previously was head of the educational affairs division and an assistant attorney general with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. 

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