Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi Named Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine


Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, an internationally renowned physician-scientist in the field of lung disease, has been named the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell University’s provost for medical affairs. Choi has served as interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine since June 1, 2016.

Choi was recruited in 2013 as the Sanford I. Weill Chairman and Professor of Medicine in the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and as physician-in-chief of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Previously, he was the Parker B. Francis Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Choi leads a rapidly growing institution, which includes a physician organization that is expanding throughout New York City, thriving programs in biomedical discovery and clinical and translational research, and top-ranked medical and graduate schools. Based on his experience as a clinician, researcher, entrepreneur and mentor, he plans to advance diverse initiatives across Weill Cornell Medicine’s mission of improving human health.

Among his main priorities as dean will be expanding clinical services into Lower Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn with hospital partner NewYork-Presbyterian. In the context of a shifting and complex health care environment, Weill Cornell Medicine will take a proactive approach to reach new patients and increase its cohort of clinical faculty, which currently numbers more than 1,200 physicians.

Another key area of focus will be joint research, academic collaborations and entrepreneurial partnerships across all of Cornell’s campuses that will pool intellectual resources across faculty with complementary interests and bolster efforts to recruit and retain the best scholars, trainees and students.

In addition, Choi will strengthen Weill Cornell Medicine’s research enterprise through faculty development, enhanced research support and ongoing recruitment. An increased emphasis on entrepreneurship will help speed the translation of research projects from bench to bedside and contribute to New York’s burgeoning biotech industry.

“I send my warmest congratulations to Dr. Augustine Choi on his appointment as dean,” said Martha E. Pollack, who will become Cornell’s 14th president April 17. “I am deeply impressed by his intellect, his candor, and his obvious passion for advancing Weill Cornell Medicine’s mission in patient care, discovery and education. I look forward to furthering collaborations across campuses and to working jointly with him to enhance the university’s strengths in the life sciences.”

“Throughout the extensive national search to find the most highly qualified candidates to lead Weill Cornell Medicine, Augustine kept rising to the top,” said Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell’s interim president and co-chair of the search committee that selected Choi. “As interim dean, he has already engaged multiple constituencies – among Weill Cornell’s faculty and leadership, across Cornell’s campuses, at NewYork-Presbyterian and partner institutions, and throughout Cornell’s broad network of supporters and friends. I found him to be a consummate leader as interim dean, and I am excited that he will be guiding Weill Cornell Medicine during the next chapter of its illustrious history.”

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Weill Cornell Medicine as interim dean for the past seven months,” said Choi, “and being selected as dean is both an incredibly humbling and a joyful experience. I am ready to intensify my efforts on behalf of our students, trainees, faculty and staff and to guide Weill Cornell Medicine into the future as it strives to attain new levels of excellence. I am certain that, working together, we are a triple threat and can make lasting and impactful contributions in health care, scientific discovery and education.”

The 19-member search committee, led by Rawlings and Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chairman of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers, included board members and senior administrators from Cornell and Weill Cornell Medicine, faculty, alumni and NewYork-Presbyterian leadership. Choi was unanimously elected to his new position today by Weill Cornell Medicine’s Board of Overseers and the Executive Committee of the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

“I could not be more delighted for Dr. Choi or for Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Bibliowicz. “He is absolutely the best person to propel this institution forward and maintain its trajectory of extraordinary growth. He can guide our research and academic mission based on his extensive experience as a physician, scientific investigator and entrepreneur. He is a proven executive leader proficient at negotiating the clinical challenges confronting academic medical centers, and he is firmly committed to the importance of mentorship at all levels.”

“With Dr. Choi, we have found the ideal dean for Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Robert S. Harrison, chairman of the board of trustees. “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank the members of the search committee who dedicated much time and effort to conducting a listening tour with key stakeholders and ultimately identifying Augustine as our top choice. He has all the qualities we seek for this demanding position – strong academic credentials in research and teaching, an extensive background in delivering clinical care and exceptional leadership skills. I am particularly impressed by his commitment to transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration among the various Cornell campuses.”

“Dr. Choi is uniquely and perfectly placed to lead Weill Cornell Medicine further into the 21st century,” said Sanford I. Weill, chairman emeritus of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers. “As department chair, he has amply demonstrated his prowess in growing clinical and sponsored research revenues, recruiting world-class scientific leaders and nurturing extremely talented individuals. He has a firm grasp of the issues facing Weill Cornell Medicine, he is a product of an institution that can promote from within, and he will hit the ground running.”

A distinguished investigator with a strong history of support from the National Institutes of Health, Choi has focused his research career on understanding how diseases of the lung, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratory distress syndrome, develop in response to molecular, cellular and genetic triggers. Choi currently directs three clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that are examining whether inhaled carbon monoxide can be an effective therapy in diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, sepsis-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome, and pulmonary hypertension.

An innovator in all aspects of the academic mission, Choi has received numerous honors and awards, including the Johns Hopkins Physician Scientist Award; the 2010 American Thoracic Society Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment; the 2015 J. Burns Amberson Lecture, which recognizes a career of major lifetime contributions to pulmonary research; and the 2011 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine, which is awarded for outstanding contributions to the development of science and medicine and is often referred to as the Korean Nobel Prize.

Dr. Choi is married to Dr. Mary E. Choi, associate professor of medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension at Weill Cornell Medicine. She is a physician-scientist and a nephrologist who is leading investigations into the role of autophagy in diseases of the kidney. They have two sons: Justin, who is completing an internal medicine residency at the Yale School of Medicine, and Alex, who is a medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Background Information on Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi

Augustine M.K. Choi, MD is the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and Provost for Medical Affairs of Cornell University. He served as the Sanford I. Weill Chairman and Professor of Medicine in the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and as physician-in-chief of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center starting in 2013 until his appointment as dean.

Dr. Choi received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Kentucky and his MD in 1984 from the University of Louisville. After completing his internship and residency in internal medicine at Duke and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins, he began his academic career in 1990 in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins. In 1998 he moved to an appointment at Yale, and in 2000 he became chief of the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2007 he was appointed the Parker B. Francis Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Choi has a longstanding commitment to the training of postdoctoral fellows and physician-scientists in lung diseases. An internationally recognized expert in the field, his research interests focus on the regulation and function of stress response genes in response to oxidative stress. His laboratory has contributed much to our understanding of the molecular regulation and function of heme oxygenase-1 and gaseous molecule carbon monoxide in lung disease, and it has studied this cytoprotective system in a variety of in vitro and in vivo models of lung and vascular disease. Dr. Choi’s research has advanced the study of carbon monoxide from basic biochemistry to novel potential therapies for multiple lung and non-pulmonary diseases, and he is currently examining whether inhaled carbon monoxide can be an effective therapy in humans. He is also interested in genomic approaches to identify candidate genes important in the pathogenesis of lung diseases, in particular sepsis/acute respiratory distress syndrome and emphysema. His laboratory has recently focused on the role of autophagy, a normal physiological process of intracellular degradation, in acute and chronic lung diseases. While at Harvard, Dr. Choi launched his own company devoted to improving the treatment of patients with lung disease.

Dr. Choi has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles in publications such as Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as numerous book chapters and editorials. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Choi is currently funded by multiple NIH R01 grants, has two program project grants, and is directing three clinical trials of experimental therapies.

With more than 25 years of experience as an academic medical center faculty member and administrator, Dr. Choi demonstrated exceptional leadership as chair of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine, which comprises 16 divisions and more than 1,700 full-time and voluntary faculty. Under his leadership, the department underwent extraordinary growth, with its number of full-time faculty increasing by more than 50 percent. Dr. Choi drove major advances in the scope and strength of the department, raising its stature and reputation among peer institutions and patient communities. He spearheaded the recruitment of top-tier academic leaders in both clinical care and research, including senior recruits for gasteroenterology and hepatology, general internal medicine, cardiovascular medicine, and pulmonary and critical care medicine. He developed and expanded programs for students, trainees and early-career faculty, including clerkship experiences, research opportunities, and mentoring support. Enhanced grant application support and faculty recruitment led to a significant increase in sponsored research funding for the department, while clinical revenues increased through geographic expansion to population centers off-campus, a greater number of clinical faculty, and operating efficiencies.

Weill Cornell Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine—faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side’s scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

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Martha E. Pollack, Provost at Michigan, Named 14th President


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. Photo provided.

The Cornell University Board of Trustees today unanimously elected Martha E. Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, Cornell’s 14th president. Pollack will assume the presidency April 17, 2017.

The board’s vote followed the selection of Pollack by a Presidential Search Committee that was formed in April 2016 following the death on March 6 of President Elizabeth Garrett. Hunter R. Rawlings III, who has served as Cornell’s interim president since April 25, will remain in his current role through April 16, 2017.

“I am humbled and honored to have been elected to lead this great university,” Pollack said. “As a private university with a public mission, Cornell is the embodiment of my own deeply held belief in the ability of knowledge to improve the human condition. I can’t wait to get started, and I look forward to meeting and working with Cornell’s outstanding faculty, students, staff and alumni in Ithaca, New York City and around the globe.”

“I am delighted to welcome Martha Pollack as Cornell’s next president,” said Robert S. Harrison ’76, chairman of the board of trustees. “She is the perfect person to take the helm of Cornell at this important moment in our history. She has successfully managed a comparably complex institution and is a bold thinker who will inspire our faculty and students in Ithaca and across all of our campuses; her academic background in computer science will serve us extremely well as we open the Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island campus next year; and her familiarity with the issues facing academic medicine will be invaluable as we continue to grow Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.”

Pollack was appointed to her current position at the University of Michigan in 2013. As the university’s chief academic officer and chief budget officer, she is responsible for the academic enterprise, which serves more than 43,000 students with over 16,000 faculty and staff, has annual operating revenues of $3.4 billion, and includes 19 schools and colleges, a number of freestanding research units, libraries and museums, and an array of academic support units. She also oversees the academic programs, ensuring that they maintain the highest level of quality and a persistent commitment to diversity and equity, and that the university’s administrative functions are aligned with its academic mission.

Prior to becoming provost, Pollack served the University of Michigan as vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, dean of the School of Information, and associate chair for computer science and engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She has been on the faculty at Michigan since 2000.

At Cornell, Pollack will have tenured appointments in the Departments of Computer Science and Information Science. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, the academic partnership between Cornell and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology at Cornell Tech.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Pollack’s research has been in the area of artificial intelligence, where she has published widely on topics including automated planning, natural-language processing, temporal reasoning and constraint satisfaction. A particular focus of her work has been the design of intelligent technology to assist people with cognitive impairment, a topic on which she testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Aging. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Intel, DARPA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

In addition to receiving a number of awards for her research, she has been honored for her professional service, for example, with the University of Michigan’s Sarah Goddard Power Award in recognition of her efforts to increase the representation of and climate for women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, as president of AAAI, as a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division, and as a member of the board of directors of the Computing Research Association.

Before joining the University of Michigan, Pollack was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the technical staff at SRI International. Pollack received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, completing a self-designed interdisciplinary major in linguistics. She earned her M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.

She has been married for 32 years to Ken Gottschlich, an engineer and jazz musician by training. They have two grown children, Anna and Nicholas.

“The search committee set out to find a bold and strategic leader who would engage the entire Cornell community in furthering the university’s core mission,” said Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, chairman of the Executive Committee of the board of trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee. “In Martha Pollack, we have found that person, and more. Recognized for her collaborative leadership style, she is uniquely qualified to bring together Cornell’s outstanding colleges, schools and campuses to elevate and align the entirety of our great university.”

Zubrow led a search committee of 19 individuals representing a cross-section of Cornell constituencies, including trustees, faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, employees, senior administrators, and alumni. The committee was advised by two former board chairs and a former chair of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers.

“I congratulate Jan Rock Zubrow and the search committee for their outstanding choice of Martha Pollack as Cornell’s 14th president,” said Rawlings. “As president of the Association of American Universities, I had an opportunity to work with Martha. She will be a great president, and her hands-on knowledge of Cornell Tech will help to solidify the growing collaborations and synergies among Cornell’s upstate and downstate campuses. I look forward to working with her over the coming months on a smooth transition.”

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Cornell University Forms Search Committee for New Weill Cornell Medicine Dean


Cornell University has formed a committee to search for a new Weill Cornell Medicine dean and provost for medical affairs. Co-chaired by Cornell University Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers Chairman Jessica Bibliowicz, the committee is tasked with selecting the institution's next leader, who will take the reins during a period of unprecedented growth.

The new dean will succeed Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, who announced in February that she would be leaving Weill Cornell Medicine to lead the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The search committee comprises 19 members who have a deep and comprehensive understanding of Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to enhancing human health by providing exemplary and individualized patient care, making groundbreaking biomedical discoveries, and educating generations of exceptional doctors and scientists. In addition to Rawlings and Bibliowicz, the committee includes board members from Cornell and Weill Cornell Medicine, senior administrators, faculty, alumni and students, as well as NewYork-Presbyterian leadership:

  • Robert Appel, vice chair of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers
  • Dr. Avery August, chair of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Dr. David Blumenthal, clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Dr. Lewis Cantley, Meyer Director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Dr. Steven Corwin, president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian
  • Dr. Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science at Cornell Tech and professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Barbara Friedman, vice chair of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers
  • Robert Harrison, chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees
  • Dr. Barbara Hempstead, senior associate dean for education at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Dr. Gary Koretzky, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and vice dean for research at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Dr. Michael Kotlikoff, provost of Cornell University
  • Raul Martinez-McFaline, M.D.-Ph.D. student in the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program and Weill Cornell Medicine student overseer
  • Edward Meyer, member of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers
  • Dr. Carl Nathan, chairman of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Timothy O’Neill, member of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers
  • Dr. Gene Resnick, past president of the Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • Dr. Michael G. Stewart, vice dean and the E. Darracott Vaughan Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine

Dr. Augustine Choi, the Weill Chairman of the Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, was named interim dean effective June 1. Glimcher will continue as an adviser at Weill Cornell Medicine through Aug. 31.

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Hunter Rawlings to Take Helm as Interim President April 25


By Karen Walters

Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell president emeritus and professor emeritus of classics, has been appointed interim president effective April 25, Cornell University Board of Trustees Chairman Robert S. Harrison '76 announced March 24.

An international search for the university's 14th president will begin in the coming months, and Rawlings will serve in an interim capacity until that person assumes the office.

Rawlings served as Cornell's 10th president from 1995 to 2003. This is the second time he has accepted the position of interim president; he previously took the helm in 2005-06 following the resignation of Jeffrey Lehman.

"Cornell University is indeed fortunate that Hunter has agreed to step forward once again to lead through a time of transition," said Harrison. "The board's unanimous vote is evidence of the respect for his leadership at Cornell and as one of the nation's premier advocates for higher education." Rawlings has served as president of the Association of American Universities since 2011 and last year had announced he would be stepping down in May 2016.

Harrison thanked Provost Michael Kotlikoff, who has been serving as acting president since Feb. 19, when President Elizabeth Garrett underwent surgery. Garrett, the university's 13th and first female president, died March 6 from colon cancer after eight months in office.

"Mike's leadership and steady hand during what has been an unprecedented and challenging time for Cornell has been nothing short of exceptional," Harrison said.

"President Garrett built a strong leadership team, and we have set an ambitious agenda," Kotlikoff said. "I look forward to working with Hunter, who knows Cornell so well and is so highly regarded by the faculty. His inspired leadership and experience make him the perfect choice."

"It is an honor to once again be called to help lead this great institution," Rawlings said. "There is much momentum around Beth's vision, and I will work with Mike, the leadership team, deans, faculty, students and staff across our campuses to continue building the university's strengths around those priorities."

As Cornell's 10th president, Rawlings renewed the university's emphasis on undergraduate teaching and worked with the faculty to identify strategic scientific priorities. His initiatives included: promoting student diversity and Cornell's need-blind admissions policy; launching the Residential Initiative, which resulted in the transformation of North Campus into a living and learning community for freshmen and new West Campus residential colleges; establishing the undergraduate Cornell Presidential Research Scholars program, which was renamed in his honor; setting strategic goals for life sciences and engineering, as well as humanities and social sciences; and strengthening Weill Cornell Medicine.

Among his accomplishments as interim president, Rawlings traveled to China to inaugurate an academic exchange between Tsinghua University and the College of Engineering, to finalize with Peking University arrangements for the Beijing portion of Cornell's new undergraduate major in China and Asia Pacific Studies, and to cultivate opportunities for new relationships and exchange programs.

Before coming to Cornell, Rawlings served as president of the University of Iowa. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, he received his doctorate from Princeton University in 1970 and is a 1966 graduate of Haverford College. He is married to Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings, a freelance translator of scholarly works from French to English. The couple has four children.

Karen Walters is the senior director of the Cornell Chronicle.

A version of this story first appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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Recalling Garrett as a 'Force of Nature with a Stunning Smile'


By Blaine Friedlander

At venerable Bailey Hall, where the walls echo a century of concerts and educational lectures, more than 1,000 Cornellians reflected on the life and legacy of President Elizabeth Garrett at a moving memorial gathering March 17.

Garrett died March 6 at age 52 after battling colon cancer.

In an hourlong ceremony at the packed auditorium, Robert S. Harrison '76, chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees, explained how Garrett first made an impression on him: "When she walked into the room, the energy level soared."

For the initial interview with Cornell's Presidential Search Committee, Harrison said, Garrett "turned the two hours of Q-and-A into a virtuoso demonstration of deep familiarity with Cornell. ... It felt like she was interviewing us — a remarkably self-confident, substantive and impressive performance. We were all wowed."

Harrison recalled that when he offered Garrett the presidency, "Beth accepted the offer and instantly became a proud Cornellian … She voraciously read books by Cornell faculty members … She regularly amazed everyone around her by how much she could pack into every single day. … True to style, she arrived in Ithaca completely prepared for the weather — with a Canada Goose coat."

Garrett was infectiously optimistic, Harrison said, recalling her saying she would beat the cancer and be back soon. "Beth Garrett never gave up. She impacted all of us. She was a close friend and a remarkable human being — destined for greatness — whose life was cut tragically short."

Pausing, Harrison said, "This is an extraordinary loss for Cornell and for the world, but I believe that her energy and spirit will continue to guide us, from far above Cayuga's waters. Farewell, Beth. We will miss you."

'Beth Breathed Life Into Everything Around Her'

Bailey Hall's stage was simply adorned with Garrett's photograph on an easel, a lectern, plants and choral group risers.

Among those attending the memorial were Garrett's husband, Andrei Marmor, Cornell's Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Philosophy and Law; Laura Gruntmeir, her sister; New York State Lt. Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul; Cornell President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings; Harold Tanner, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees; and Kent Fuchs, president of the University of Florida and former Cornell provost.

Glee Club performs "Amazing Grace"

The Glee Club performs "Amazing Grace." Robert Barker/University Photograph

The Cornell University Chorus began the afternoon's program with "The Road Home," a solemn, modern, stirring piece, followed by readings from Garrett's speeches and messages by the leaders of Cornell's shared governance groups, and personal reflections.

Graduate student trustee Annie O'Toole, J.D. '16, a member of the Presidential Search Committee, spoke of Garrett's lasting influence. "Her example reminds me that the greatest success is found when one follows one's passions. Beth was driven. She may be the hardest working person I've ever met," she said. "To me she was always the most prepared, the most engaged, most enthusiastic person in every room. She inspired me to put forth my best effort in every endeavor."

Mark Weinberger, global chairman and CEO of EY, a longtime friend, said: "There are some people in this world that suck oxygen out of a room when they enter it. And there are some that breathe life into it. And Beth breathed life into everything around her."

Weinberger described Garrett as brilliant, fearless, tenacious, passionate, kind, a role model and friend, whose "path led from Oklahoma City to the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court, from the United States Senate to the roles of the highest levels of government, academia and public policy. And it led her to become an educator and inspire students around the world. Teaching was really Beth's DNA."

Remarking on Garrett's energetic personality, Weinberger said: "Beth always seemed to be in a hurry. People always marveled at how tireless she was, how she worked while others were sleeping. … But it wasn't just her incredible energy that made Beth amazing, it was what she did with it. … Beth so wanted to make a difference in this world, to have a lasting impact on others. And only now in hindsight do I realize why Beth was in such a hurry to do it. She somehow knew things in advance that others didn't. In her way-too-short life, Beth Garrett made an indelible difference on so many lives."

'A Great Road Ahead'

Dr. Orli R. Etingin, professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, attended Garrett during her illness.

Dr. Etingin spoke about how Garrett was "an awesome woman, a scholar, a true leader and a visionary." But she was also down-to-earth and liked ordinary things, such as ice cream and watching the television show "Scandal."

Michael Kotlikoff speaks at memorial for Elizabeth Garrett

Provost and Acting President Michael Kotlikoff speaks at the memorial gathering for President Elizabeth Garrett. Robert Barker/University Photography

Throughout her treatment, Garrett kept her upbeat manner. "On the day she went home from the hospital, after five weeks, which turned out to be her last day, I asked Beth what she wanted to do most when she got home," Dr. Etingin said. "Would she want to sit in her sunny spot in the living room or do something special? And she replied to me, she wanted to do her taxes," as the audience gave an appreciative laugh. "And she said with her great dazzling, big grin, 'Orli, you've forgotten, I'm a tax attorney.'"

Dr. Etingin concluded: "On that last night when Beth and Andrei knew it was the end, I came to their home to help her out of the pain. And she pulled me close and gave me a message to give all of you in the Cornell community. She said, 'Please, Orli, please, tell them, be sure to tell them that I think they're great, that there are important things in store for them. I am so proud of everyone, and I know that they'll be fine. There's a great road ahead for Cornell.'"

'Affirm Beth's Aspirations'

Michael Kotlikoff, provost and acting president, said: "Beth's decisiveness and her high standards, combined with her professional achievements and her bold vision for Cornell, convinced me to say yes when I joined her in Day Hall. With her infectious enthusiasm and stunning smile, this connected and savvy Oklahoman was a great, great fit for Cornell — the down-to-earth and democratic Ivy. We quickly formed a special bond. … Very shortly we were finishing each other's sentences."

Music and Medicine program; memorial gathering for Garrett

Weill Cornell Medicine’s Music and Medicine program performs during a memorial gathering for President Garrett. Photo credit: Stephanie Diani

He continued: "We are grateful for what she accomplished, humbled by her courage, moved and motivated by her vision. Let us remember her by the ways in which she touched us: That stunning smile and that passion for scholarship, for the academy. Let us affirm Beth's aspirations for Cornell and honor her by our commitment to them."

The Glee Club performed "Amazing Grace" and then was joined by the Cornell Chorus for the singing of the alma mater.

'One of the Great Leaders in Cornell History'

Cornellians in New York City joined in the celebration of Garrett's life and legacy with a gathering at Weill Cornell Medicine prior to the memorial event in Baily Hall, which was live-streamed. Students, physicians, instructors and scientists were among the nearly 200 who attended the ceremony at a solemn Uris Auditorium, as well as the Weill Cornell Medicine doctors who cared for President Garrett in her final days.

"Not only was she one of the great leaders in Cornell history," said Jessica Bibliowicz '81, chairman of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers, "but I'm quite confident that if she had more time she would have been one of the great leaders in university history."

Bibliowicz noted that despite Garrett's short tenure as Cornell's leader, she made tremendous strides to bridge the Ithaca and New York campuses, including Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech. And she made a lasting impact on students, who signed a get-well card for her, and on Bibliowicz, who recalled their many hour-long conversations about everything from university initiatives to social culture.

Memorial for President Garrett

Cornellians in New York City attend a memorial gathering for President Elizabeth Garrett on March 17. Photo credit: Stephanie Diani

"At the end of the day, that's why I say Cornell University lost its 13th president, but like so many of you in this room I lost a friend," Bibliowicz said.

Student Overseer for the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers Raul McFaline-Martinez relayed poignant memories of President Garrett, whom he said always looked "visibly excited" to be leading the university.

"Personally, I've never met an institutional leader who was so genuinely interested in the realities of student life," he said. "I don't know how she made the time to be available to listen to all of our issues."

Blaine Friedlander is a senior science editor for the Cornell Chronicle. Timothy Malcolm, a freelance writer for Weill Cornell Medicine, also contributed to this report.

A version of this story first appeared on the Cornell Chronicle.

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President Elizabeth Garrett Dies of Colon Cancer at Age 52


By Joe Wilensky

Cornell University President Elizabeth Garrett died March 6 from colon cancer. She was 52.

"Our president, colleague and friend, Elizabeth Garrett, passed away late last evening after a brave battle with colon cancer," Robert S. Harrison '76, chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees, said in a message sent to the university community March 7. "There are few words to express the enormity of this loss.

"Beth was simply a remarkable human being — a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service and had a profound, positive impact on the many lives that she touched. In this regard, she was the quintessential Cornellian. From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history. While Beth's tenure as president has tragically been cut short, her efforts over the last eight months have set the university on a path toward continued excellence. She will leave a lasting legacy on our beloved institution and will be terribly missed."

Garrett is the first Cornell president to die while in office. She began her tenure as the 13th president July 1, 2015, during the university's sesquicentennial year. Her inauguration on Sept. 18 as Cornell's first female president was a celebratory milestone, and she already had made a striking impact on the university.

"Beth was an inspiring and visionary leader who continually raised the bar for all of us at Cornell as we charted the university's future together," said Michael Kotlikoff, acting president and Cornell provost. "Her greatest legacy will be for this generation of Cornellians — faculty, students and staff — to build on Beth's fearless dedication to discovery and learning, and her incredible energy to make her vision for Cornell University's future a reality."

Kotlikoff continued, "We are all deeply saddened by her passing, and I extend my profound condolences to her husband, Andrei Marmor, to her family, and to the community of thousands and thousands of Cornellians, here in Ithaca and around the country and the world."

Garrett first shared her cancer diagnosis with the Cornell community Feb. 8 in a statement. She underwent surgery Feb. 19, naming Kotlikoff acting president. On Feb. 22 it was announced that she had been released from intensive care and would continue treatment. 

Priorities Shared at Inauguration

During her inaugural address, "The Road to Ithaka: Full of Adventure, Full of Discovery ... The Marvelous Journey," Sept. 18, 2015, Garrett likened Cornell University to a state of mind and a spirit of lifetime journey, repeatedly returning to the text of C.P. Cavafy's poem about Ulysses' journey home. She stressed the importance of the faculty as the foundation of the university; students as partners in the voyage of discovery and making a difference in the world; and the growing Cornell Tech campus in New York City that gives it something no other leading American university has — an established home in a quintessential college town and also a substantial footprint in an international urban center.

Elizabeth Garrett

President Elizabeth Garrett at her inauguration on Sept. 18, 2015 Photo credit: Robert Barker/University Photography

She described how she planned for the university to focus, in the upcoming months, more intensely on both the residential undergraduate experience and on defining, as a community, the shared intellectual experience all Cornell students should encounter.

In her first State of the University Address the following month, Garrett highlighted the continuing growth of Cornell's global footprint and listed her top priorities for the university: attracting and retaining top faculty; increasing government research funding, corporate strategic partnerships and philanthropic support for research and creative work; investing in key academic areas that have broad impact; enhancing the student learning and living experience; and broadly increasing cross-campus connections.

She added that Cornell was on track to hire 80-100 new faculty in the 2015-16 academic year and described the university's upcoming strategic planning process and how it will inform decisions about where to invest at the university level. Some areas already were apparent, Garrett said, identifying sustainability and energy, the visual and performing arts, materials science and engineering, and entrepreneurship.

She also described how existing and new academic initiatives, for graduate and professional students as well as undergraduates, already were improving the Cornell student experience, from new degree programs to global learning opportunities and the Engaged Cornell initiative.

Concluding her State of the University Address, Garrett quoted Cornell's third president, Jacob Gould Schurman, who said Cornell is "at once realistic and idealistic ... always in quest of something better." She challenged the audience, "as both idealists and realists," to build on the "visionary purpose" of Ezra Cornell and Andrew D. White and, together, "take Cornell to an even higher level of excellence and global influence."

Among her initiatives was the creation, announced this January, of an integrated Cornell College of Business that will comprise the university's three accredited business schools. Established by the board of trustees, the process of how the college will be created and structured began over the past two months through meetings and forums with stakeholders.

Elizabeth Garrett at 2015 Farm 2 Fork dinner

President Elizabeth Garrett chats with students at the 2015 Farm 2 Fork dinner Photo credit: Jason Koski/University Photography

Garrett's Career Before Cornell

Garrett was appointed to the provost and senior vice president position at USC in October 2010. As the university's second-ranking officer, she oversaw the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as well as the Keck School of Medicine of USC and 16 other professional schools, in addition to numerous divisions. She also was involved in the Keck Medical Center of USC and sat on the health systems board overseeing three hospitals and 18 clinical practices.

At USC, she was the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor of Law, Political Science, Finance and Business Economics, and Public Policy; she had served previously as USC's vice president for academic planning and budget.

Garrett's primary scholarly interests included legislative process, the design of democratic institutions, the federal budget process and tax policy. She was the author of more than 50 articles, book chapters and essays, and is co-author of the nation's most influential casebook on legislation and statutory interpretation.

In 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush appointed her to serve on the nine-member bipartisan Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. From 2009 to 2013, she served as one of five commissioners on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's independent political oversight agency, and was a co-chair of its Subcommittee on the Political Reform Act and Internet Political Activity.

Before joining the faculty of USC, she was a professor of law at the University of Chicago, where she also served as deputy dean for academic affairs. She received her B.A. in history with special distinction from the University of Oklahoma and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before entering academics, Garrett served as budget and tax counsel and legislative director for Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Joe Wilensky is managing editor of Ezra magazine.

A version of this story first appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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Sanford I. Weill Retires as Chair of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers After 20 Years of Transformative Leadership


Jessica M. Bibliowicz, Successful Business Executive, Named New Chair of the Board

NEW YORK (December 9, 2014) — After 20 years of bold and visionary leadership that has transformed Weill Cornell Medical College into a global healthcare enterprise, Sanford I. Weill will retire as chair of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers on Jan. 1. Jessica M. Bibliowicz, a successful entrepreneur in the financial services business for nearly three decades, who has served on the Board of Overseers for the past decade, will succeed Mr. Weill, the new chair emeritus.

Jessica M. Bibliowicz and Sanford I. Weill

Jessica M. Bibliowicz and Sanford I. Weill. All photos: John Abbott

The transition comes as the 116-year-old medical college embarks on a new chapter that builds upon the landmark successes Mr. Weill has realized in his two decades as chair. His enduring dedication to the institution that bears his name has resulted in an unprecedented expansion that is exemplified in Weill Cornell's excellence in medical education, biomedical research and clinical care. In collaboration with medical college leadership, Ms. Bibliowicz will help lead Weill Cornell as it continues to break new ground in New York and abroad by expanding its clinical enterprise and forging public-private partnerships that accelerate groundbreaking scientific discoveries for patients. Working closely with Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Ms. Bibliowicz will help guide its transformation of medical education and drive dialogue on innovative healthcare delivery models that optimize the value and quality of patient care.

"When I joined the Board of Overseers more than 30 years ago, I was driven to try and make a difference in the world," Mr. Weill said. "It's truly humbling to see just how much of an impact Weill Cornell has had around the globe, and I believe we are poised to thrive far into the future. Weill Cornell Medical College is more to me than just an esteemed medical school — the people here are my extended family. I could think of no one better than Jessica to shepherd Weill Cornell into the next stage of its evolution."

"It's an honor and privilege to be able to support Weill Cornell Medical College's tremendous efforts to educate, innovate and heal," Ms. Bibliowicz said. "As a Cornell University alum, it's especially meaningful to me to try and help take this distinguished institution to the next level of excellence in New York and beyond. Our ever-changing healthcare landscape has sparked exciting opportunities to help shape national conversation, and I'm eager to work with Dr. Glimcher and the Board of Overseers as we strive to improve and prolong human health."

Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, Sanford I. Weill and Jessica M. Bibliowicz

In the three decades he has served on the Board of Overseers and in the two decades he has been chair, Mr. Weill has been much more than a governing force. His benevolence and unwavering resolve to ensure a healthier future has touched every program area at Weill Cornell, establishing the medical school as an innovator in basic, clinical and translational research, and forging a new paradigm for global engagement and medical education.

Under Mr. Weill's leadership, the medical college has built bridges nationally and abroad. Weill Cornell forged an affiliation with Houston Methodist in Texas and, with Cornell University, established a medical school in Doha, Qatar. Since its inception in 2002, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, which offers a Cornell University medical degree, has created 181 new doctors who have continued their graduate medical training in residencies and clinical research at outstanding institutions in the United States and Qatar. The Weill Cornell Qatar location has also established a world-class biomedical team and contributed to Qatar's goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy. In addition, Weill Cornell in 2007 established a formal affiliation with Bugando Medical Centre and the Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences in Mwanza, Tanzania, named in recognition of the Weills' support. Weill Bugando has graduated an average of 100 new doctors every year for the past seven years in Mwanza, expanding Tanzania's core of providers who are empowered to deliver the best patient care, despite a resource-limited setting. This unique educational partnership has spurred new possibilities for cultural exchange, providing medical students at Weill Cornell in New York and residents at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital with the opportunity to spend a month or two in Mwanza practicing medicine the way it used to be, with limited modern technology. They return to New York with a greater sense of gratification that reaffirms their commitment to global health and a career in academic medicine.

In recognition that building a healthier future also requires training an exceptional cadre of new doctors and scientists, Mr. Weill and his wife Joan in 1992 established the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Education Center, the heart of the medical college's education program, with their first gifts to Weill Cornell. The Weill Education Center comprises the Weill Auditorium and 20 classrooms and teaching laboratories outfitted with modern audio-visual, networking and wireless technology to provide the next generation of medical professionals with the best environment for learning.

Sanford I. Weill

In 2007, Weill Cornell opened the Weill Greenberg Center in New York City, the medical college's flagship and award-winning ambulatory care center, and in January opened the adjacent Belfer Research Building, a transformative 18-story, state-of-the-art facility that ensures that the medical college remains at the forefront of scientific discovery. Their proximity to each other ensures that breakthroughs made in the laboratory can be rapidly applied to patient care as improved treatments and therapies. Weill Cornell has successfully recruited some of the world's leading physicians and scientists to conduct this translational research. Last year, the Weills established the Weill Center for Metabolic Health, which strives to understand the basic biology and genetics of diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, and translate discoveries into next-generation therapeutic approaches. Weill Cornell is conducting a national search for a renowned scientist to lead these efforts.

A self-made man who exemplifies the philosophy of leading by example, Mr. Weill, Mrs. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation have generously given more than $550 million in gifts to support Weill Cornell Medical College. They include a groundbreaking $100 million gift in 1998 — at the time the largest in Cornell University's history — a second $100 million gift in 2002, a $250 million gift in 2007 and another $100 million gift in 2013 to establish the Weill Center for Metabolic Health, as well as the Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation Global Health Research Laboratories. In honor and appreciation of their unparalleled dedication and enduring commitment, the institution in 1998 was renamed Weill Cornell Medical College. With an additional gift of $50 million to Cornell University, the Weills' total giving tops $600 million.

The Weills' altruism inspired and galvanized Weill Cornell's numerous, loyal donors to support the medical college. In Mr. Weill's 20 years as chair, the medical college has raised $3 billion. Earlier this year, Weill Cornell celebrated the Weills' legacy by naming its department of medicine the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine.

"What Sandy has done for Weill Cornell, New York and the world is just breathtaking — it's a labor of love that will touch the lives of generations," Dr. Glimcher said. "His unwavering leadership, profound magnanimity and steadfast resolve to enhance medical education, advance discoveries and enrich clinical care is his lasting legacy. Jessica is an outstanding choice to assume Sandy's mantle and steer Weill Cornell into the future. I couldn't be more thrilled for what's to come."

"Sandy is a businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, visionary leader, chairman emeritus of Citigroup, Cornell alumnus and my good friend," said Cornell University President David Skorton. "As chair of the Board of Overseers of Weill Cornell Medical College, he has nurtured the college's growth, guided its progress and expanded its capacity for rigorous medical education, path-breaking research and superb clinical care — to the enormous benefit of our students, faculty, researchers and patients. I am delighted that Jessica Bibliowicz, who has provided exemplary leadership to the university and the medical college, has agreed to take on this new role as chair of the Board of Overseers."

"It is impossible to overstate the impact that Sandy has had on Weill Cornell Medical College, and on the whole of Cornell University, during his time as chair of the Board of Overseers," said Robert Harrison, chair of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. "He is someone who can not only articulate a strong and inspirational vision, but also bring people together to do what it takes to make the vision a reality. Although I will miss working with Sandy, I am very much looking forward to working with Jessica in her new role. She has been a very effective trustee and overseer for many years and clearly has the talent and energy to lead the Board of Overseers and the medical school to new heights."

About Jessica M. Bibliowicz

A Cornell University graduate in 1981 and after working 18 years in financial services, Ms. Bibliowicz became CEO of National Financial Partners in 1999, a financial services firm that specializes in benefits and wealth management. The company went public in 2003 and was sold to Madison Dearborn in 2013. Ms. Bibliowicz joined the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers in 2004. She is also a member of the Cornell University Board of Trustees and a member of the Cornell NYC Tech Campus Task Force. Currently, Ms. Bibliowicz is a senior advisor at Bridge Growth Partners and serves on the board of directors of Sotheby's(NYSE: BID); Realogy (NYSE: RLGY); and the Asia Pacific Fund (NYSE: APB). She is a board director/trustee of Prudential Insurance Funds and is also on the board of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Cornell University is the first in the U.S. to offer a M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

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