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Cornell’s Twelve Presidents

Andrew Dickson White, President, 1866-1885
Charles Kendall Adams, President, 1885-1892
Jacob Gould Schurman, President, 1892-1920
Livingston Farrand, President, 1921-1937
Edmund Ezra Day, President, 1937-1949
Deane Waldo Malott, President, 1951-1963
James Alfred Perkins, President, 1963-1969
Dale Raymond Corson, President, 1969-1977
Frank Howard Trevor Rhodes, President, 1977-1995
Hunter Ripley Rawlings III, President, 1995-2003
Jeffrey Sean Lehman, 2003-2005
David J. Skorton, 2006

Inaugurating the Presidents

Cornell’s Twelve Presidents

Hunter Ripley Rawlings III, President, 1995-2003

Hunter R. Rawlings III was appointed Cornell University’s tenth president on December 10, 1994, and took office on July 1, 1995. His administration saw the restoration of central campus: the transformation of Sage Hall into the new home of the Johnson Graduate School of Management; the conversion of Tjaden Hall for the Department of Art; and the renovation of Lincoln Hall for music students and faculty. The Laboratory of Ornithology opened a magnificent new building. The $55-million Lake Source Cooling Project was one of the most significant environmental initiatives ever undertaken by an American university to promote a sustainable future.

New strategic initiatives included the development of a university-wide Faculty of Computing and Information Science and a major initiative in genomics and interactive molecular biology. A $500-million New Life Science Initiative was the largest scientific initiative in the history of Cornell and included plans for the construction of a new Life Sciences Technology Building, designed by nationally renowned architect Richard Meier. Duffield Hall, on the Engineering Quad, provides the infrastructure for continued excellence in nanotechnology, advanced materials and related fields.

With new residence halls and the Community Commons, the North Campus Residential Initiative created a strong new community for freshmen, rooted in Cornell ideals. Work also began on the West Campus Residential Initiative for upper-level students. A freshman reading program drew on Cornell’s intellectual strengths across the campus.

The Medical School prospered. An alliance with Columbia University’s medical center created one of the most extensive and effective health-care-provider networks in the nation. In 1998 Joan and Sanford I. Weill committed $100 million to the medical college, the largest single gift in the history of Cornell; the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University was named in their honor. The Medical College and Cornell-Ithaca collaborated in creating a new venture for health and education in Qatar, the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, which enrolled its first coeducational class of pre-medical students in 2002 and was officially dedicated in October 2003.

Hunter R. Rawlings III was born in 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia. He graduated from Haverford College, with honors in classics, in 1966. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1970 from Princeton University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and National Defense Education Act Fellow.

Rawlings joined the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1970 as an assistant professor of classics, became department chair in 1978, and was named a full professor in 1980. He served as associate vice chancellor for instruction from 1980 to 1984. Rawlings also served for four years as vice president for academic affairs and research and as dean of the System Graduate School of the University of Colorado. He came to Cornell from the University of Iowa, where he was president and professor of classics from 1988 to 1995.

Among Rawlings’s many scholarly publications is The Structure of Thucydides’ History (Princeton University Press, 1981). He has also served as editor of the Classical Journal. In 1995 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected him a member. He has also been a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education, and served as chair of the Association of American Universities and the Council of Ivy League Presidents. He retired as President of Cornell in June 2003 to assume a full-time professorship in the Department of Classics. With the resignation of Jeffrey Lehman, Hunter Rawlings agreed to assume responsibilities as Interim President from July 2005 to the appointment of David Skorton in July 2006.

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Hunter Ripley Rawlings III
Hunter Rawlings, 1995.


The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
Discussions about the establishment of a branch of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar, began in 1999. The new building, deisgned by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, was dedicated in October, 2003.


The Great Cornell Pumpkin
One morning in the middle of October in 1997, a large pumpkin - estimated to weigh up to 60lb (27kg) - mysteriously appeared on top of McGraw Tower. The mystery and sheer daring of the prank generated coverage by the national and international news media, beginning with an article in The New York Times on Oct. 27.

While a panel of plant experts affirmed that the object on the tower was indeed a pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo), reports that President Rawlings had personally placed it there have been denied.


Mews Hall
The Mews is Cornell's newest residence hall. Opened in 2001 as part of the North Campus Residential Initiative, it provides a place to sleep, eat, study, work, and play for 269 freshmen during their first year on campus.


September 11 Memorial Convocation
In the days following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Cornell students, faculty and staff responded with memorials, relief efforts and a teach-in. Later, campus forums discussed specific plans and problems, and Cornellians offered their expertise as well as concrete assistance.

On Friday, September 14, the National Day of Prayer and Remberance, some 12,000 students, faculty members, staff members, local alumni, and their families gathered on the Arts Quad on Sept. 14 for an all-university Memorial Convocation. In his remarks, President Rawlings avowed:

In the midst of this week's tragic events, it is essential that we reaffirm Cornell's core value of academic freedom, and the responsibility that goes with it. What can we do to help the nation bind up its wounds? We will do what we do best: educate our students in open classrooms and campus-wide teach-ins; conduct our research and scholarship in open laboratories and libraries; and publish our work in open journals and airways. That is the best response to the evil of terrorism, which lives in secret and thrives on hatred. Terrorism is the negation of freedom and responsibility. Cornell is a beacon of freedom and responsibility.