The Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents Elects Dr. David J. Skorton as the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian
The Smithsonian Institution's Board of Regents announced today it elected Dr. David J. Skorton, president of Cornell University and a board-certified cardiologist, as the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, effective July 2015.
Skorton, 64, has been president of Cornell University since July 2006; he is also a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College, and in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering. His research focus is congenital heart disease, cardiac imaging and image processing. Skorton will be the first physician to lead the Smithsonian.
Before becoming Cornell University's president, Skorton was president of the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2006. He was a member of its faculty for 26 years.
"David Skorton has demonstrated keen vision and skilled leadership as the president of two great American universities," said John G. Roberts, Jr., Smithsonian Chancellor and Chief Justice of the United States. "His character, experience and talents are an ideal match for the Smithsonian's broad and dynamic range of interests, endeavors and aspirations. I look forward to working with David to increase the impact of an incomparable American institution across the spectrum of arts, sciences, education, and culture."
Skorton has called for fresh thinking and new alliances to serve society through science, technology, humanities and the arts to develop the next generation of thought leaders.
"Becoming a part of the Smithsonian is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead an institution that is at the heart of the country's cultural, artistic, historical and scientific life," Skorton said. "I am honored by the Board of Regents' decision. I look forward with great enthusiasm to partnering with the excellent staff and volunteers, and engaging with the Regents, Congress and the Smithsonian's many friends, supporters and affiliates to further extend our reach. I am eager to work with the leaders of Washington's art, science and cultural centers to emphasize the critical importance of these disciplines."
The Regents' nine-member search committee was led by current Board Chair John McCarter, who said Skorton was selected because he is a well-rounded, accomplished leader.
"As a successful president of two universities, David has led complex organizations," McCarter said. "He is an accomplished research scientist and a strong advocate for the arts and humanities, which make him an extraordinary fit for the Smithsonian. I am confident David is the right leader for our future, as we stress continuity and aspire to further expand the Smithsonian's presence nationally, internationally and in Washington, D.C."
Under Skorton's leadership, Cornell partnered with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to win an international competition to develop a new type of graduate school, Cornell NYC Tech, under development on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The graduate school, currently operating in space donated by Google Inc. in Manhattan, combines deep technical knowledge with real-world experience and an entrepreneurial culture.
An ardent and nationally recognized supporter of the arts and humanities, Skorton has called for a national dialogue to emphasize the importance of funding for these disciplines. He asserts that supporting the arts and humanities is a wise investment in the future of the country.
Skorton is a strong proponent of industry-university partnerships. He has been active in innovation and economic development at the state and national levels to bring business and universities together toward diversifying regional economies. He is a member and past chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum, an independent, nonprofit organization of industry CEOs, leaders of colleges and universities, and foundation executives. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
A highly effective fundraiser, Skorton led a team that raised more than $5 billion during his presidency at Cornell. At the University of Iowa, he completed the first billion-dollar campaign in the state.