Meet the new president: Jonathan Brand

From the Fall 2010 Cornell Report

Cornell’s next president, Jonathan Brand, is hoping to bring some of the lessons he’s learned in his five years at the helm of Doane College in Crete, Neb., with him to the Hilltop.

Jonathan Brand

Brand, who will assume the presidency July 1, 2011, said that one of the most important efforts he’s made while at Doane was to connect with the community. Liberal arts colleges in small towns are by their nature relationship-driven, he said, and there’s a drive for a connection between the college and the community at large.

In interviews with local media outlets after his appointment was announced, Brand spoke about having regular breakfasts with community leaders. “They’ve been terrific,” he said, because it’s important to have some time each month to discuss the issues facing the college and the community. With small communities, word-of-mouth is still a major way of communicating, so making sure community members have accurate information is part of building a good relationship, he said.

Brand and his wife, Rachelle LaBarge, will be formally introduced to the Cornell College community in February. They have two children, Madeline, age 15, and Ethan, age 13.

Brand said his goal during that short visit is to simply meet as many people as he can, both on campus and off. “Those personal connections are really important.”

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.

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

“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.”

A complete profile of Brand will appear in the next issue of the Cornell Report.