List of presidents of Cornell University

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Cornell University's Arts Quad, with a statue of Andrew Dickson White, Cornell's first president, in the foreground. Cornell University arts quad.JPG
Cornell University's Arts Quad, with a statue of Andrew Dickson White, Cornell's first president, in the foreground.

The President of Cornell University is the chief administrator of Cornell University, an Ivy League institution located in Ithaca, New York and New York City. Included in the list below are all Presidents of Cornell University, from the first President Andrew Dickson White and through the current President, Martha E. Pollack. There have been 14 Presidents of Cornell University, not including three interregnum presidencies during university presidential transitions.


New York's only land-grant university, Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White and has its main campus in Ithaca, New York, as well as two newer satellite medical campuses in New York City and Qatar. Cornell joined the newly formed Ivy League in 1954 and is the only land-grant institution within it.

List of presidents

PresidentTerm of officeEducationNotes
1 Andrew Dickson White 1885.jpg Andrew Dickson White
1866 – 1885
(19 years)
White was the co-founder of Cornell University, along with Ezra Cornell, and introduced the bill in the New York State Senate establishing Cornell University. The bill was passed and became the university's charter. [2]
2 Charles Kendall Adams.jpg Charles Kendall Adams
1885 – 1892
(7 years)
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09830, Jacob Gould Schurman.jpg Jacob Gould Schurman
1892 – 1920
(28 years)
4 Portrait of Livingston Farrand.jpg Livingston Farrand
1921 – 1937
(16 years)
5 Edmund Ezra Day (1883-1951) in 1947.jpg Edmund Ezra Day
1937 – 1949
(12 years)
CornelisWDeKiewiet1952.jpg Cornelis de Kiewiet (interregnum)
1949 – 1951
(2 years)
6 Deane Waldo Malott
1951 – 1963
(12 years)
7 James Alfred Perkins
1963 – 1969
(6 years)
  • Undergraduate degree with high honors, Swarthmore College (1934)
  • Ph.D., Princeton University (1937)
8 Dale R. Corson
[10] [11]
1969 – 1977
(8 years)
9 Frank H.T. Rhodes president of Cornell.jpg Frank H. T. Rhodes
1977 – 1995
(18 years)
Hunter R. Rawlings III
(born 1944)
1995 – 2003
(8 years)
11 Jeffrey S. Lehman
(born 1956)
2003 – 2005
(2 years)
Hunter R. Rawlings III (interregnum)
(born 1944)
2005 – 2006
(1 year)
  • B.A. with honors, Haverford College (1966)
  • Ph.D, Princeton University (1970)
12 Dr. David J. Skorton.jpg David J. Skorton
(born 1949)
[15] [16]
2006 – 2015
(9 years)
13 Elizabeth Garrett
2015 – 2016
(<1 year)
Garrett died in office in March 2016. [17]
Hunter R. Rawlings III (interregnum)
(born 1944)
2016 – 2017
(1 year)
  • B.A. with honors, Haverford College (1966)
  • Ph.D, Princeton University (1970)
The Cornell University Board of Trustees appointed Rawlings as interim university president following the death of Elizabeth Garrett, effective April 2016. [18]
14 Martha E. Pollack
(born 1958)
2017 – present

See also

Related Research Articles

Andrew Dickson White American politician

Andrew Dickson White was an American historian and educator, who was the cofounder of Cornell University and served as its first president for nearly two decades. He was known for expanding the scope of college curricula. A politician, he had served as state senator in New York. He was later appointed as a US diplomat to Germany and Russia, among other responsibilities.

Ezra Cornell American businessman

Ezra Cornell was an American businessman, politician, and philanthropist. He was the founder of Western Union, founder of Ithaca's first library, and a co-founder of Cornell University. He also served as President of the New York Agriculture Society and as a New York State Senator.

Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is a division of Cornell University. It has been part of the university since its founding, although its name has changed over time. It grants bachelor's degrees, and masters and doctorates through affiliation with the Cornell University Graduate School. Its major academic buildings are located on the Arts Quad and include some of the university's oldest buildings. The college offers courses in many fields of study and is the largest college at Cornell by undergraduate enrollment.

Charles Kendall Adams American educator and historian

Charles Kendall Adams was an American educator and historian. He served as the second president of Cornell University from 1885 until 1892, and as president of the University of Wisconsin from 1892 until 1901. At Cornell he established a new law school, built a library, and appointed eminent research professors for the Ivy League school. At Wisconsin, he negotiated ever-increasing appropriations from the state legislature, especially for new buildings such as the library. He was the editor-in-chief of Johnson's Universal Cyclopaedia (1892–1895), and of the successor Universal Cyclopaedia (1900), sometimes referred to as Appleton's Universal Cyclopaedia.

Quill and Dagger

Quill and Dagger is a senior honor society at Cornell University. It is often recognized as one of the most prominent societies of its type, along with Skull and Bones and Scroll and Key at Yale University. In 1929, The New York Times stated that election into Quill and Dagger and similar societies constituted "the highest non-scholastic honor within reach of undergraduates."

Dale R. Corson American scientist

Dale Raymond Corson was the eighth president of Cornell University. Born in Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1914, Corson received a B.A. degree from the College of Emporia in 1934, his M.A. degree from the University of Kansas in 1935, and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1938.

Henry W. Sage American businessman

Henry Williams Sage was a wealthy New York State businessman, philanthropist, and early benefactor and trustee of Cornell University.

Hunter Ripley Rawlings III is an American classics scholar and academic administrator. He is best known for serving as the 17th President of the University of Iowa from 1987 until 1995 and as the 10th President of Cornell University from 1995 until 2003. He also served as Cornell's interim president in 2005–2006 and again from 2016–2017. Currently, Rawlings is Professor and University President Emeritus at the Department of Classics.

Cornelliana is anything related to Cornell University's unique traditions, legends, and lore.

History of Cornell University

The history of Cornell University begins when its two founders, Andrew Dickson White of Syracuse and Ezra Cornell of Ithaca, met in the New York State Senate in January 1864. Together, they established Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1865. The university was initially funded by Ezra Cornell's $400,000 endowment and by New York's 989,920-acre (4,006.1 km2) allotment of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862

Sage Hall

Sage Hall was built in 1875 at Cornell University's Ithaca, New York campus. Originally designed as a residential building, it currently houses the Johnson Graduate School of Management.

David J. Skorton 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, cardiologist and university professor

David Jan Skorton is an American physician and academic. He has been president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) since July 15, 2019. Prior to the AAMC, he led the Smithsonian Institution, the national research museums of the United States, as its 13th Secretary from July 2015 to June 2019. A cardiologist, he was president of Cornell University from 2006 to 2015. Before arriving at Cornell, he served as president of the University of Iowa, where he had been a longtime professor and then vice president. He began his career as a professor of medicine and engineering.

George Lincoln Burr American historian

George Lincoln Burr was a U.S. historian, diplomat, author, and educator, best known as a Professor of History and Librarian at Cornell University, and as the closest collaborator of Andrew Dickson White, the first President of Cornell.

Cornell University Private Ivy League research university in Upstate New York

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

The Cornell University Department of History is an academic department in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University that focuses on the study of history. Founded in 1868, it is one of Cornell's original departments and has been a center for the development of professional historical research institutions in the United States, including the American Historical Association and the American Historical Review. It remains a highly-ranked program in the field and its alumni and faculty have won Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, among other distinctions. In addition, many of Cornell's presidents have served among its ranks.

Sage Chapel Non-denominational chapel on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, US

Sage Chapel is the non-denominational chapel on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York State and serves as the final resting place of many Cornell luminaries, including the university's founders, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, and their wives. The building was a gift to the university of Henry William Sage and his wife. The chapel is located on Ho Plaza, across from Willard Straight Hall and next to John M. Olin Library, John McGraw Tower, and Barnes Hall.

Francis Miles Finch American judge

Francis Miles Finch was an American judge, poet, and academic associated with the early years of Cornell University. One of his poems, "The Blue and the Gray", is frequently reprinted to this day.

The bibliography of Andrew Dickson White spans his career from 1852, during his junior year at Yale University, through his death in 1918. The primary topics of his works were related to social sciences such as history, government, economics, and international relations. Secondary topics included architecture and educational theory.

Cornell Central Campus

Central Campus is the primary academic and administrative section of Cornell University's Ithaca, New York campus. It is bounded by Libe Slope on the west, Fall Creek on the north, and Cascadilla Creek on the South.

Irving Literary Society (Cornell University) organization

The Irving Literary Society was a literary society at Cornell University active from 1868 to 1887. The U.S. Bureau of Education described it as a "purely literary society" following the "traditions of the old literary societies of Eastern universities." During the period when the Cornell literary societies flourished, the Irving and its peers produced literature at a rate higher than the campus average for the next generation, leading commentators at the turn of the 20th century to question whether academic standards had fallen since the university's founding. Named after the American writer Washington Irving, the Irving Literary Society was founded on October 20, 1868, shortly after Cornell opened. Past members who went on to prominent careers included Judge Morris Lyon Buchwalter, Senator Joseph Benson Foraker, and the journalists John Andrew Rea and Francis Whiting Halsey. The Irving's last public meeting was held on May 23, 1887. After that it ceased to exist as a Cornell University student society. However, the New York Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi undergraduate fraternity at Cornell claims to have "served as steward of the Irving Literary Society since 1888".


  1. "Andrew Dickson White, President, 1866-1885". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  2. "Andrew Dickson White". Cornell University Office of the President. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  3. "Charles Kendall Adams, President, 1885-1892". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  4. "Jacob Gould Schurman, President, 1892-1920". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  5. "Livingston Farrand, President, 1921-1937". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  6. "Edmund Ezra Day, President, 1937-1949". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  7. "Guide to the Cornelius W. De Kliewiet Papers, 1949-1951". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  8. "Deane Waldo Malott, President, 1951-1963". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  9. "James Alfred Perkins, President, 1963-1969". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  10. "Dale Raymond Corson, President, 1969-1977". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  11. Vitello, Paul (5 April 2012). "Dale Corson, Cornell Administrator Who Helped Quell Protest, Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  12. "Frank Howard Trevor Rhodes, President, 1977-1995". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  13. "Hunter Ripley Rawlings III, President, 1995-2003". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  14. "Jeffrey Sean Lehman, President, 2003-2005". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  15. "David J. Skorton, 2006". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  16. "Cornell's Skorton Will Step Down to Head the Smithsonian". Bloomberg. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  17. 1 2 Slotnik, Daniel E. (7 March 2016). "Elizabeth Garrett, First Female President of Cornell, Dies at 52". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  18. Walters, Karen (24 March 2016). "Hunter Rawlings to take helm as interim president April 25". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 22 October 2016.