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Cornell president, Skorton, to depart for Smithsonian in 2015

By Eric Reinhardt


ITHACA — Dr. David Skorton, president of Cornell University, will leave in mid-2015 to become the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the university announced today.

Smithsonian Institution, located in Washington, D.C., is the world’s largest museum and research complex, Cornell said in a news release. Cornell is Central New York’s largest employer, according to CNYBJ Research.

The Smithsonian board of regents voted to approve Skorton’s appointment on March 9, Cornell said.

Skorton, who is also a board-certified cardiologist, will remain president and continue all the duties and activities of his office at Cornell through June 30, 2015, the university said.

Skorton and his wife, professor Robin Davisson, will relocate to Washington, D.C.

In reaction to the announcement, Skorton said in the Cornell news release that he is “honored to be chosen.”

“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,” Skorton said.

Robert Harrison, chairman of the Cornell University board of trustees, in the news release called Skorton’s tenure at the school “stellar.”

“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,” Harrison said.

Harrison will soon appoint a committee to lead the search for Cornell’s 13th president, the school said.

Skorton became Cornell’s president on 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 in the College of Engineering on Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

In addition to his work as an administrator and a cardiologist, Skorton is also a biomedical researcher, musician, and an advocate for the arts and humanities, Cornell said.

Skorton earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1970 and his medical degree in 1974, both from Northwestern University.

He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Cornell.

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