Martha Pollack, new Cornell University president, takes the helm

Martha Pollack, president of Cornell University. Photo by Robert Barker/Cornell University Photography

Editor's Note: This story was first published by our local media partner, The Ithaca Voice. You can find the original link here.

ITHACA, N.Y. — Martha Pollack took charge Monday as Cornell University's 14th president.

Pollack previously served as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs of the University of Michigan. Pollack is an expert in artificial intelligence and will hold tenured academic appointments in the departments of Computer Science, Informational Science and Linguistics, according to a Cornell Chronicle story.

While provost at the University of Michigan, Pollack launched initiatives in interprofessional health education, poverty alleviation research and a humanities research collaboration center, according to Cornell.

Cornell announced Pollack would be the university's new president in November, after being selected by a 19-member president search committee made up of trustees, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, staff and alumni.

Trustee Jan Rock Zubrow, who chaired the search committee, said in November that Pollack filled the need for "bold, strategic leadership" at a complex institution. Zubrow said Pollack was known for her "velvet glove approach" to management, which was effective in bringing people together.

Related: After six-month search, Cornell announces 14th president, Martha Pollack

In a message to the Cornell community Monday, Pollack said Cornell is in an exciting moment in time.

"With its deep academic and cultural roots in Ithaca and its expanding presence in New York City, Cornell is at an exciting moment, with burgeoning intellectual collaborations across all its campuses that are creating, curating and communicating knowledge and providing unrivaled opportunities for teaching, learning, and societal contribution," Pollack said.

While the university has been in a transition since the sudden death of former president Elizabeth Garrett, Hunter R. Rawlings III has served as interim president.

All three local colleges are transitioning to new presidents in 2017. Ithaca Collegerecently announced Shirley Collado will lead the university. In February, Tompkins Cortland Community College announced they had narrowed their search to three finalists.

Pollack's inauguration will be in August.

Read Pollack's full statement below:

Dear Members of the Cornell University Community,

I am honored to begin my service today as Cornell University’s 14th president and to join all of you in shaping the future of this distinguished institution. The Board of Trustees has entrusted me with a great responsibility, and I will do my utmost to deserve their confidence and yours.

I am grateful to Hunter and Elizabeth Rawlings, who have brought enlightened leadership and their personal warmth to the university over more than two decades, including during some very difficult times. My husband, Ken Gottschlich, and I have learned so much from them, and we wish them all the best as they pick up their long-deferred retirement plans.

Like five previous Cornell presidents, I come to Cornell from the University of Michigan, which shares many of Cornell’s fundamental values: its commitment to discovery through research, scholarship and creative activity; its dedication to teaching and learning; its belief in egalitarianism and in the importance of diversity; and its determination to serve the greater good through public engagement.

With its deep academic and cultural roots in Ithaca and its expanding presence in New York City, Cornell is at an exciting moment, with burgeoning intellectual collaborations across all its campuses that are creating, curating and communicating knowledge and providing unrivaled opportunities for teaching, learning, and societal contribution.

Over the next weeks and months, I will be learning from you about the full breadth and depth of Cornell. I am looking forward to our work together and, with your help, to making Cornell an even more distinguished and distinctive university.

Sincerely,

Martha E. Pollack

President