Cornell President Martha Pollack Suddenly Announces Retirement

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Robert McGreevy Contributor
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Martha E. Pollack, president of Cornell University, announced her retirement in a surprising Thursday Instagram post.

“After seven fruitful and gratifying years as Cornell’s president — and after a career in research and academia spanning five decades — I’m ready for a new chapter in my life,” Pollack wrote on Instagram.


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“Over the next two months, as I complete my service, I will work diligently to resolve the issues we currently face, and to facilitate a smooth leadership transition,” she concluded in the post.

Pollack was facing calls from Pro-Palestinian protestors to force the university to divest from businesses associated with Israel. She sent a Monday e-mail condemning the protestors. “Since last Thursday, we have tried to engage thoughtfully with the participants, and will try to continue to do so,” Pollack said in a campus-wide e-mail, according to the Cornell Sun. “But we need to soon get to a resolution that respects our policies, promotes the public health and safety of the community, and preserves the rights of all to do their work.”

She addressed the protesters again in a longer retirement statement obtained by the DC Examiner’s Kaelan Deese. (RELATED: UNC Chancellor Rolls Up With Platoon Of Police And Puts American Flag Back Up On Campus)

“There is so much more to Cornell than the current turmoil taking place at universities across the country right now,” she wrote in the statement.

Pollack will be officially stepping down on June 30, according to the Cornell Chronicle. Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff will serve as Cornell‘s interim president starting July 1, the Chronicle reported.

Pollack’s resignation is yet another high profile end to an ivy league president’s tenure in the wake of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. Harvard’s Claudine Gay resigned in January after facing severe backlash over her response to antisemitism on Harvard’s campus. UPenn’s Liz Magill resigned for similar reasons in December.

Columbia University’s president Minouche Shafik has also faced intense pressure to resign amidst her school’s ongoing rash of protests.