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Cornell University President Pollack to retire in June, interim named

By Eric Reinhardt (


Martha Pollack
Cornell University President Martha Pollack plans to retire on June 30 after having served for more than seven years as the university’s 14th president. Cornell University Provost Michael Kotlikoff will become interim president for a two-year term, beginning July 1. (Photo credit: Cornell Chronicle website)

ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell University President Martha Pollack, who has served for more than seven years as the university’s 14th president, will retire on June 30.

Cornell University Provost Michael Kotlikoff has been selected as interim president, effective July 1, per the Thursday announcement on the Cornell Chronicle website. At that time, the school’s board of trustees will give Pollack the title of president emerita “in recognition of her contributions and legacy.”

At the request of the board of trustees, Kotlikoff will serve a two-year term as interim president. The board will then form a search committee to select Cornell’s 15th president, about six to nine months before Kotlikoff’s term ends.

In addition to his nine years as provost, Kotlikoff previously served as acting president, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and professor of molecular biology, per Cornell’s announcement.

“Serving as the president of Cornell has been an amazing privilege; there are few roles that afford so much opportunity to make a positive difference in the world,” Pollack said in the announcement. “After seven fruitful and gratifying years as Cornell’s president — capping a career in research and academia spanning five decades — I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. I greatly appreciate the continued support of our Board of Trustees and the many faculty, students, staff and alumni who have shared words of encouragement through my time as president, especially over the past academic year.”

Pollack — a professor of computer science, information science and linguistics — is an expert in artificial intelligence, the university says. Formerly provost and executive VP for academic affairs of the University of Michigan, she succeeded the late Elizabeth Garrett as Cornell’s president in 2017.

“President Pollack has been a transformational leader of Cornell, and her positive impact on our university will be felt for decades to come,” Kraig Kayser, chair of the Cornell University board of trustees, said in the announcement. “Beyond her achievements in academics, research and affordability, I and my fellow trustees deeply value her intelligence, integrity, candor and warmth, as well as her unwavering commitment to Cornell being a community of belonging.”

Cornell University, founded in 1865, is a privately endowed research university and a partner of the State University of New York. Cornell has more than 16,000 undergraduate students and 10,200 graduate and professional students, according to its website, citing Fall 2023 data. The university has nearly 3,000 faculty members and more than 11,300 total employees, as of Nov. 1, 2023 data.