Former USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett died on Sunday, a month after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Garrett, 52, was serving as the president of Cornell University, the first female to ever hold that position.
After announcing her diagnosis in early February, Garrett began intensive treatment at Weill Cornell Medicine and was released following surgery on Feb. 19. She died at her home on Sunday night, less than one year after starting her new role at Cornell.
Previously, Garrett served as the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC for five years, assuming her role in 2010. Before becoming provost, she served as a professor for seven years and was named the Frances R. and John J. Duggan professor of law, political science, finance and business economics and public policy.
“Beth served on my senior leadership team for over a decade, and proved herself to be a remarkably dynamic leader with a singular gift for inspired, innovative thinking,” USC President C. L. Max Nikias said in a statement. “So many of us recall her remarkable energy, her tenacious commitment to her work, and her deep passion for our community.”
In her role at USC, Garrett recruited administrators, expanded the strength and diversity of undergraduate classes, and expanded the University’s residential and online professional master’s degrees. She also played a key role in expanding the University’s postdoctoral programs and programming new academic buildings.
Outside of her administrative duties, Garrett was a dedicated professor and researcher of law. The author of more than 50 articles, book chapters and essays, she studied legislative processes, the design of democratic institutions and the federal budget process and tax policy. She was also the co-author of what is considered to be the most influential casebook on legislation and statutory interpretation. Her work, both administrative and academic, left a considerable impact on the Trojan community, according to Nikias and fellow administrators.
“Beth’s legacy at the University of Southern California is both exceptional and assured,” Nikias said. “Beth worked tirelessly on our behalf, and her accomplishments will continue to benefit the Trojan Family for generations, as we watch our faculty produce even more transformative work, and as our students achieve even greater successes around the world. Many of these contributions will have their roots in Beth’s stellar leadership, and for this we should all be grateful.”