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President Martha Pollack Announces Retirement from Cornell University

Cornell University‘s President, Martha E. Pollack, is retiring on June 30, 2024. Her seven year term saw the university grow and improve its worldwide reputation. Poll started many new projects to increase the growth and innovation of the university.

Transformative Leadership and Initiatives

  • New schools such as Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science were set up.
  • Programs in sustainability, digital agriculture, artificial intelligence, and technology design were introduced.
  • External research expenses increased by around 50%, showing a rise in Cornell’s research abilities.
  • Campus facilities got better including ongoing construction of new buildings for Cornell Bowers CIS and Atkinson Hall.

Pollack also helped guide the university during the COVID19 pandemic. Under her guidance, Cornell became an example for how to manage itself safely in unpredictable times.

Advocacy for Educational Affordability and Accessibility

Pollack made big strides in making education at Cornell affordable and available

  • A debt free program at Weill Cornell Medicine was put into action
  • The Active Learning Initiative was launched that reaches about 10,000 students per year,
  • Mental health services expanded so everyone at Cornell has help when they need it.

Leadership Transition

When she retires Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff will become temporary president. The Board of Trustees gave Pollack the title of President Emerita because she left a lasting mark on the school.

The Chairman Kraig H. Kayser along with the Board of Trustees thanked Pollack for her visionary direction, which will greatly influence Cornell’s future. They believe Provost Kotlikoff can manage the university efficiently during the transition.

Challenges and Controversies

It wasn’t always perfect under Pollack. Freedom of speech issues and protests by students about global problems were tense towards the end of her tenure. Yet she was able to manage these problems effectively most notably by starting a campus wide program to appreciate open dialogue.

Pollack and her team received backlash for how they disciplined pro Palestinian protesters from some within academia, exposing the tricky balance between keeping order on campus and preserving free speech.

Reflections and Future Prospects

As she gets ready to retire, Pollack feels accomplished and hopeful about Cornell’s future. She admired how well the Cornell community handled tough situations such as pandemic related troubles and global crises.

Looking for a new president will start in the later part of Provost Kotlikoff’s term. The university wants to keep all the good things that happened under Pollack while getting ready for new challenges in higher education.

Cornell University thrived under Pollack’s guidance, dealing with many obstacles while continuing to innovate and excel academically. Her retirement ends an important time in Cornell’s past but also starts an exciting time where those at Cornell can capitalise on what she started.


Ryan Lenett
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