Cornell names 15th President

Cornell College, a nationally-recognized liberal arts college with distinguished faculty across all disciplines, has named Doane College President Jonathan Brand its 15th President, effective July 1, 2011. Brand succeeds Les Garner, who served as President of Cornell for 16 years before leaving in June to become President and CEO of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

Jonathan Brand

The selection of Brand comes a little more than a week after the college announced that its Extraordinary Opportunities Campaign raised $105.8 million—more than any other national liberal arts college in Iowa and well over the goal of $92 million. Gifts to that campaign support all aspects of campus, and have allowed the college to create outstanding, nationally-recognized academic programs, including the Berry Center for Economics, Business and Public Policy; the Cornell Fellows program; and Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare.  The campaign also supported renovation of Pfeiffer Hall, which houses 159 students, the creation of endowed professorships and scholarships, and the recruitment and retention of professors dedicated to teaching undergraduates.

In August, Cornell also welcomed a record student body of 1,191 students from almost all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries.

Brand is President of Doane College, a liberal arts college in Nebraska with 1,000 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students with campuses in Crete, Grand Island and Lincoln.

“At this important point in our history, I am pleased to welcome the Brands to the Cornell family,” said John Smith ’71, chair of the board of trustees and the presidential search committee.  “We have strong momentum as a college and Jonathan’s track record of success, commitment to community and attributes as a leader makes him uniquely qualified to be our next president.”

President-elect Brand and his wife, Rachelle LaBarge, will be formally introduced to the Cornell College community later this year.  The Brands have two children, Madeleine, age 15, and Ethan, age 13.

During Brand’s five years at Doane, the college added new majors in biochemistry and journalism, strengthened the environmental sciences major, launched the Learning Communities Initiative, created the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, reduced the faculty teaching load, and strengthened Doane’s pre-medical program, with a 100 percent success rate of student applications to all medical/health professions graduate programs in 2008. The college also surpassed its $40 million campaign goal by $5 million, renovated two residence halls, and enhanced its athletic facilities.  The college has now achieved record enrollment for two consecutive years.

“My family and I are delighted to be joining the Cornell College community,” Brand said. “Cornell is an institution that I have admired for years, and I feel very fortunate to be following President Garner.  I look forward to working with the faculty, students, and staff in advancing Cornell’s core mission: fostering intellectual, moral, and personal growth in its students through liberal learning.”

Before leading Doane, Brand spent seven years at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa,  first as Special Assistant and Counsel to the President and then as Vice-President of Institutional and Budget Planning.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and French from the University of Madison-Wisconsin in 1988, a Master of Arts degree in French Literature from the University of Michigan in 1990, and a Juris Doctor degree from Cornell University in 1996.

“The faculty and trustees worked well together and had a similar vision for what the college needed from its next president,” said Phil Lucas, professor of history and chair of the faculty search committee. “We found someone who will fulfill that vision and take us to new places.”

The search committee included:  Gilda Vinzulis Boyer ’84, Tom Cox ’52, Judy Hesler Jorgensen ’60, Professor of History Phil Lucas, John McGrane ’73, Bob McLennan ’65, Associate Professor of English Michelle Mouton, Professor of Art Tony Plaut ’78, Jerry Ringer ’59, Presidential Search Committee Chair John Smith ’71, Professor of Chemistry Cindy Strong, Professor of Biology Craig Tepper and Richard Williams ’63.

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