Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett will leave USC to become the 13th president of Cornell University, effective July 1.
Garrett, who has held her current position at USC since 2010, will serve as Cornell’s first female president. She will succeed President David J. Skorton, who is leaving Cornell to assume a position as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
“I am honored by the confidence that the board has placed in me to lead Cornell, and I am excited to work with the faculty, students, staff and alumni to continue and enhance their commitment to academic excellence; their influential involvement in research and education throughout the world; their long tradition of egalitarianism, inclusion, and public service; and their deep engagement with New York,” Garrett said in a statement.
Cornell led a six-month national search before appointing Garrett as the university’s next president. Chairman of Cornell’s board of trustees, Robert Harrison, said that he is proud to welcome Garrett as the university’s next president.
“[Provost Garrett] has not only distinguished herself as an inspirational leader, thinker and scholar, but she also embodies the values and traditions that have placed Cornell at the forefront of the increasingly global field of higher education,” Harrison said in a statement. “She is going to be a great president.”
Garrett came to USC in 2003 as a professoriate. She served as USC’s vice president for academic planning and budget before becoming the university’s second-ranking officer and first female provost. Garrett was also named the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor of Law, Political Science, Finance and Business Economic and Public Policy.
As provost, Garrett is responsible for overseeing the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and USC’s professional schools. She also supervises the divisions of student affairs, research, libraries, information technology services, student religious life and enrollment services.
During her time as Provost, Garrett has recruited administrators and faculty members from across the academic disciplines. She has also accelerated the recruitment of the Provost Professors, created the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program in the Humanities and helped to develop the USC Strategic Vision: Matching Deeds to Ambitions.
President C.L. Max Nikias, who has worked alongside Garrett on his senior leadership team for nine years, spoke highly of Garrett’s accomplishments at USC.
“I am personally thrilled for Provost Garrett, who has served the USC community with exceptional dedication since 2003,” Nikias wrote in a letter to the USC community. “[S]he has proven to be a remarkably dynamic leader, showing boundless energy in advancing the university’s initiatives, and a singular gift for innovative and tactical thinking. She will be deeply missed at USC.”
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry praised Garrett’s leadership skills.
“I have been in college administration for 20 years, worked for some great people and Liz Garrett is by far the best boss I have ever had,” Carry said. “She is rigorous, thoughtful, considerate and extremely hard working. So today is a sad day for me. But that sadness is balanced by my pride and happiness for her.”
Carry said that Nikias will begin working on a transition plan in the coming weeks.
“We lost a great provost who has done a lot of incredible things at USC. But we are such a great institution of higher education and we are going to look for the next best thing to her,” Carry said.
Garrett received her B.A. in history with distinction from the University of Oklahoma and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before joining USC’s faculty, Garrett was a professor of law at the University of Chicago, where she also served as deputy dean for academic affairs. Before entering the academic field, Garrett served as budget and tax counsel and legislative director for then-Oklahoma Sen. David L. Boren, and also clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court.