A transformational leader

Dear Cornellians,

As you read in President Pollack’s recent message, she has informed the Board of Trustees of her desire to retire after the conclusion of this academic year, and the Board has approved her request.

President Pollack has been a transformational leader of Cornell, and her positive impact on our university will be felt for decades to come. Under her leadership, the university has expanded research expenditures, with funding increasing by nearly 50%; enhanced the affordability of a Cornell education by increasing the number of aided students by 1,000 and reducing annual student debt by 25%; created new high-profile academic programs like the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, an innovative cross-disciplinary Digital Agriculture program, a multi-college Department of Design Tech, and much more; and made continued progress towards Cornell’s sustainability goals. Our public safety organization has been modernized, and our physical plant is undergoing important additions, such as the new Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science building, the new Atkinson Hall multidisciplinary building, much-needed renovations to McGraw Hall, and a new fieldhouse that will provide valuable recreational opportunities for our students.

Beyond this, President Pollack has always emphasized the importance of living our shared values. Shortly after she began her presidency, she engaged the Cornell community to memorialize the core values that define who we are and what we aspire to be. She has consistently demonstrated her personal commitment to these values, as seen most recently in her spearheading the first-ever university-wide theme year, on free expression. Her commitment to free expression and academic freedom has been a constant during her presidency. Her unwavering commitment to Cornell being a community of belonging has been demonstrated many times during her tenure through her unambiguous communications and statements promoting thoughtful dialogue and condemning hate.

On a personal level, all my fellow trustees and I have enjoyed working with President Pollack and have valued her intelligence, integrity, candor, and warmth. We deeply appreciate all that President Pollack has contributed to Cornell during her seven years as president, and I am pleased to say that this morning the Board appointed her president emerita, effective July 1.

The Board has asked Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff to serve as interim president for a two-year term beginning on July 1, 2024. Mike has graciously accepted this position, continuing his 24-year dedication to Cornell, which has included service not just as provost for the last nine years, but as acting president, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and professor of molecular physiology. Mike will do an exceptional job leading the university during this important transition.

Six to nine months prior to the end of Mike’s term, the Board will stand up a search committee to select Cornell’s 15th president.


Kraig H. Kayser, MBA ’84
Chair of the Cornell University Board of Trustees