The leader of one of the nation's most prestigious universities will depart next year to head the world's largest museum and research complex. David Skorton will be relocating to Washington D.C. in July 2015 to lead the Smithsonian Institution. His appointment was approved by a vote of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on March 9. In a news release, Chair of Cornell's Board of Trustees Robert Harrison has nothing but praise for Skorton:
“This is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for David to lead one of the world’s truly great institutions. In selecting David, the Smithsonian has acknowledged what we at Cornell already know – that David is that rare leader who can guide a great institution to even greater achievement. They could not have made a better choice.”
Skorton became Cornell's 12th president in 2006 after leading the University of Iowa for three years and serving on the faculty there for 26. In a release, Skorton says the timing works well with an upcoming milestone at Cornell:
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the Smithsonian Institution, one of our true national treasures. The mission of the Smithsonian – ‘The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge’ – resonates deeply with me and mirrors the collective mission of the remarkably talented community of scholars, students and staff with whom I have had the privilege to collaborate at Cornell these past eight years. While I look forward to beginning my new assignment, I am delighted that the timing will enable me to commemorate Cornell’s sesquicentennial as president.”
Skorton is a seasoned administrator, board-certified cardiologist, biomedical researcher, musician, and advocate for the arts and humanities. He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 and an M.D. in 1974, both from Northwestern University. Harrison will soon appoint a search committee to lead the effort to select the next Cornell president.