University Law School Dean Jeffrey Lehman is about to don a new cap in the academic world. On Dec. 14, Cornell University’s Board of Trustees announced Lehman as the successor to Cornell President Hunter Rawlings, who plans to retire June 30.

Lehman stressed the similarities between the University of Michigan and Cornell University. “They’re both complex, diverse campuses that are committed to excellence,” he said.

“Cornell, like Michigan, is committed to having a diverse intellectual community where people have the opportunity to learn from others who have had different life experiences,” he added. “I intend to continue to support Cornell’s commitment to remain a racially and ethnically integrated intellectual community.”

University President Mary Sue Coleman praised Lehman for his commitment to the Law School’s race-conscious admissions policies.

“Jeff has been a valued colleague, providing strong leadership for the University of Michigan’s Law School,” Coleman said in a statement. “In addition, Jeff is a distinguished and articulate voice in the University’s defense of its Law School admissions policies with an unwavering commitment to educational diversity.”

Lehman said his departure would have no impact on the University of Michigan’s admission policies. He said he plans to continue supporting the drive for educational diversity at Cornell.

Lehman said he recognized the magnitude of assuming the presidency of Cornell.

“I was thrilled, I was flattered and I was humbled by the challenges and responsibility of leading such an important institution,” he said.

University of Michigan administrators expressed confidence in Lehman’s ability to handle the responsibilities of his new job.

“I salute the Trustees of Cornell for their excellent judgment in choosing Jeffrey Lehman as their next president,” Provost Paul Courant said in a statement.

Coleman praised Lehman’s work in the Law School, saying, “During his tenure the school has maintained its stellar academic stature and significantly expanded its programs in transnational law, legal writing and clinical education.”

Lehman graduated from Cornell in 1977 with a mathematics degree, and will be the first Cornell alum to serve as president. He earned his advanced degrees in law and public policy in 1977 from Michigan. After completion of his education, Lehman worked as a law clerk and lawyer.

He became a faculty member at the University in 1987 and became Law School dean in 1994. “I’m obviously sad to leave Michigan, which has been my home for 15 years,” he said.

But even as a vacancy in the University was opened, another vacancy was filled. Last month, a search committee chaired by Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Dean Rebecca Blank recommended John May as the University vice president for Development. May, who has been the development chief at The Ohio State University for the past 10 years, is expected to be approved by the Board of Regents at their Jan. 16 meeting.

May’s biggest responsibility will be running a new fundraising capital campaign the University is expected to begin in the next couple years. Money raised from the campaign is expected to go to endowments, construction, scholarships and other priorities in each of the colleges.

“He’s considered one of the top people in the country in fundraising,” Coleman said. “He was described to me as the ‘best of the best.'”

-Daily Staff Reporter Jeremy Berkowitz contributed to this story.

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