Cornell University welcomes second female president

By Sarah Ploss and Leah Rostohar

Cornell University is welcoming its second female president, Martha E. Pollack this coming April.

This election follows the passing of former president, Elizabeth Garrett. Garrett passed away in early March of 2016 after a battle with colon cancer. She was the first female to be named president of the university and served eight months of her term.

President-elect Pollack was elected early last month and will be taking over for interim president, Hunter R. Rawlings III.


Martha E. Pollack will become the 14th president of Cornell University on April 17, 2017. Photo provided by Cornell University

Martha E. Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, will become the 14th president of Cornell University April 17, 2017.

At a luncheon hosted in Nov., Pollack announced that she plans to focus on a couple key issues such as diversity and innovation to better the university.  She also plans on doing more with the various graduate and undergraduate New York City programs and the main campus to create “One Cornell.”

At the luncheon, Pollack was greeted with a standing ovation, a symbol of the welcome she has received from faculty and students.

Cornell junior, Samuel Turer, said he expects great things from the new president-elect.

“I had an opportunity to meet President-elect Pollack two weeks ago on her visit to campus and I can say I was very impressed with her ability to build consensus on many issues that affecting the university and her eagerness to meet with student leaders,” Turer said.

Turer also pointed out the importance of having a new president who will match former president Garrett’s level of enthusiasm for the school.

“I hope the President-elect Pollack will bring the same energy and inspiration to the students the President Garret did so many times,” Turer said.

Garrett spent time focusing on efficiency and diversity throughout the university.  She also highlighted the importance of the entire university working together as a team.


President Elizabeth Garrett died at age of 52. (Photo credit Jason Koski)

Others students on campus share the same sentiments as Turer. Cornell junior, Kaavian Shariati said he hopes to see Pollack carry on the legacy left behind by Garrett as well, not just in her persona but also in her policies.

“I feel like they want to honor her work by maybe continuing some of the practices she instated while she was president,” Shariati said.

Fellow Cornell junior, Kelaiah George, said she hopes to see the momentum that the university has gained to continue.

“I would hope that because this is such a big community, she wouldn’t do anything to deteriorate from what we already have going,” George said.

With all of the talk about what Pollack will do once in office, another thing on students’ minds is the transition from Interim President Rawlings to Pollack in April.

Turer pointed out that the community has faith in Rawlings’ ability to enable a smooth transition and make sure that the office is ready for Pollack come spring.

“This is President Rawlings’s third time serving as Cornell’s president and I believe he knows better than anyone how to transition the job to a successor,” Turer said.

Although saddened by the loss of President Garrett, members of the community said they are excited to see what President-elect Pollack will bring to the university in the coming years.

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