Elizabeth Garrett dies at her home in Manhattan, New York, aged 52. Garret was a lawyer and scholar and was the first woman to be president of Cornell University, according to CNN/.
The cause of Garret’s death was colon cancer, the university said. In her short time as president, Elizabeth spearheaded an effort to group Cornell’s three accredited business programs into a College of Business. She had succeeded David J. Skorton, who stepped down to head the Smithsonian Institution.
She announced on Feb. 8 that she recently learned she had colon cancer and that she would undergo aggressive treatment. The university’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff, was later named acting president.
Garrett was previously the provost at the University of Southern California from 2010 until 2014. She was also the first woman to hold that job.
“Being the first woman president of Cornell, just as I was the first woman provost at U.S.C., puts me in the position of being a role model — not just for young women, but also for men,” she told the magazine Times Higher Education in 2014. “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.”
Helen Elizabeth Garrett was born on June 30, 1963, in Oklahoma City. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oklahoma, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1985, and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1988.
After graduating, she was a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
She also taught law as a visiting professor at the University of Virginia Law School and Harvard Law School, and in Budapest and Israel. She was appointed to a tax reform panel by President George W. Bush in 2005.
Survivors include her husband, Andrei Marmor, a professor of law and philosophy at Cornell; her parents, Robert and Jane Garrett; and a sister, Laura Gruntmeir. She also had a home in Ithaca, N.Y.