Michael I. Kotlikoff, dean of Vet College, named provost

Michael Kotlikoff
Robert Barker/University Photography
Michael I. Kotlikoff, Cornell University's 16th provost

Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine since 2007, will be Cornell University’s next provost, President Elizabeth Garrett announced today. Kotlikoff will assume the office Aug. 1.

“Mike demonstrates deep knowledge of Cornell and has a superb record of accomplishments as a scholar and administrator, both here and at the University of Pennsylvania,” said Garrett, who led the search committee, in an email to faculty and staff. “The breadth of his insight and vision, paired with skilled leadership, have been essential to the Veterinary College’s growth, record of innovation and collaboration, and academic and clinical prominence during his eight years as dean.”

Kotlikoff said: “I am deeply honored and enormously excited to be asked to serve as provost and help guide the academic vision of this magnificent university. I look forward to collaborating with our talented faculty, students and staff as we work to continue developing the teaching, research and engagement missions that position Cornell among the world’s pre-eminent universities.”

As Cornell’s 16th provost, Kotlikoff succeeds Kent Fuchs, who stepped down in November 2014 to assume the presidency of the University of Florida. Former ILR Dean Harry Katz has served as interim provost, and Garrett thanked him for his “strong leadership and valuable judgment” during the transition. Following a leave this coming year, Katz will return to the faculty at the ILR School.

“I congratulate the search committee on the excellent choice of Mike Kotlikoff as provost,” said Robert S. Harrison, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees. “Mike brings a strong life sciences expertise to senior management that will complement Beth Garrett’s social sciences background, but he also brings an appreciation for the arts and humanities as a literature major in college. Throughout his long tenure at Cornell, Mike has been articulate, thoughtful and passionate about enhancing the stature of the university, and very importantly, he always has been a team player and broad-minded university citizen.”

Garrett added her thanks to the search committee, which comprised faculty, students and administrators from across the university, and to those who participated in the comprehensive search that saw a diverse pool of 125 initial prospects.

As the chief academic officer, the provost provides leadership for the planning, development, implementation, assessment and improvement of all academic programs, policies and supporting infrastructure, other than those reporting to the provost for medical affairs. The provost plays a critical role in strategic planning and reviews all tenure and promotion actions. Also serving as the chief operating officer, the provost oversees the operating budget for the Ithaca campus, Cornell Tech and affiliated activities around the world. In her email, Garrett said Kotlikoff will lead a strategic planning process for the university that will conclude by December 2016.

As dean, Kotlikoff initiated a comprehensive strategic plan to enhance the College of Veterinary Medicine’s programs in education, delivery of animal health care and research, and he launched an $87 million capital project to upgrade the college’s infrastructure and teaching facilities and enable an increase in the pre-clinical class size. Throughout his tenure he oversaw an increase in diversity of the faculty, staff and college administration; the expansion of clinical training opportunities for veterinary students; and a reorganization of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. He also focused on expanding basic and clinical research programs and promoting translational linkages and interdisciplinary research.

Under his leadership, the college opened a highly successful veterinary specialty and emergency critical-care hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, and the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists, a referral and emergency care hospital, near the Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, New York. It also partnered with City University of Hong Kong to launch the first college of veterinary medicine in Hong Kong.

Kotlikoff earned a B.A. in literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, his V.M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981 and a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, Davis, in 1984.

He joined the Cornell faculty in 2000 as professor of molecular physiology and served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences from 2000 to 2007. Prior to Cornell, he was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania for 15 years, chairing the Department of Animal Biology from 1995 to 2000.

Kotlikoff has served on numerous Cornell committees, including the recent budget model task forces. He currently sits on the scientific administrative board of the Cornell Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies and the administrative board of the Cornell University Council, and he is a member of the Technology Transfer Committee. He has served on and chaired advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), international scientific journals, scientific companies and foreign universities.

His research laboratory, which has been funded continually by the NIH for more than 30 years, is internationally recognized in the area of cardiovascular biology. Kotlikoff has pioneered efforts to understand complex physiological processes at the molecular level through the use of genetics, molecular design and advanced optics. Work from his laboratory has provided insights into heart development, cell based heart therapy, muscle cell precursors, and the regenerative limits of heart cells. As provost, Kotlikoff will maintain his laboratory.

Kotlikoff announced that Lorin D. Warnick, professor of ambulatory and production medicine, has been appointed interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Warnick has served as associate dean for veterinary education for the past eight years and director of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals for the past three years. A search for Kotlikoff’s successor will begin in the coming weeks.

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