Cornell University president dies aged 52

Elizabeth Garrett announced last month that she was fighting colon cancer

March 8, 2016
Elizabeth Garrett Cornell University
Source: Cornell University

Elizabeth Garrett, who was inaugurated as Cornell University’s first female president in September 2015, has died aged 52, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling colon cancer.

In a statement issued on 7 March, Robert Harrison, chairman of the institution’s board of trustees, said that Professor Garrett died on the evening of 6 March.

He said that she was a “remarkable human being – a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service and had a profound, positive impact on the many lives that she touched”.

“From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history," he added.

"While Beth’s tenure as president has tragically been cut short, her efforts over the last eight months have set the university on a path toward continued excellence. She will leave a lasting legacy on our beloved institution and will be terribly missed.”

In February, Professor Garrett announced that she had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Prior to leading the Ivy League institution, she was provost and senior vice-president for academic affairs at the University of Southern California.

Professor Garrett gave an interview to Times Higher Education in 2014. "Being the first woman president of Cornell, just as I was the first woman provost at USC, puts me in the position of being a role model – not just for young women, but also for men,” she stressed.

“It is important for women and men to see strong and capable women in positions of leadership, so we understand that certain characteristics such as gender and race do not determine how well people do in those offices.”

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