Hunter R. Rawlings III became president of the Association of the American Universities on June 1, 2011. Prior to this position, Rawlings served as president of Cornell University from 1995 to 2003, and as interim president for one year between 2005 and 2006. He served as president of the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1995.
Rawlings came to Ithaca as Cornell’s tenth president with a vision for, in his words, “composing Cornell”: organizing the remarkably diverse parts of Cornell in such a way that they would work more effectively together. During his presidency, the university took great strides toward making that vision a reality.
As part of his commitment to academic excellence, he provided strong support for continuing to increase student diversity and for Cornell's need-blind admission policy, which was made permanent during his tenure.
Rawlings renewed Cornell's emphasis on the importance of undergraduate teaching, setting an example by teaching an undergraduate course in the Department of Classics during the last two years of his presidency. He established the new position of vice provost for undergraduate education and the Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program, which is now named in his honor. He also envisioned and launched the Residential Initiative, a new approach to residential life for Cornell undergraduates that developed North Campus as an all-freshman campus, and West Campus as a collection of residential colleges for sophomores and juniors.
Rawlings set strategic scientific priorities for Cornell, resulting in, among other things, the Cornell Genomics Initiative and New Life Sciences Initiative. Rawlings also reorganized the biological sciences on the Ithaca campus and set in motion the plans for constructing a pioneering facility for life science technologies. At the same time, he provided additional support for the programs in the humanities and social sciences at Cornell, recognizing their critical significance for the future of human societies in a rapidly changing scientific and technological environment.
Rawlings also strengthened Cornell’s Medical College, guiding the implementation of the Medical College's strategic plan through a successful major gifts campaign. In 2001 Rawlings signed an agreement to establish a new branch of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, thereby creating an unprecedented expansion of many aspects of Cornell’s international activities and influence.
At the conclusion of his presidency in 2003, Rawlings was elected president emeritus and began serving as a full-time professor in Cornell's Departments of Classics and History. From 2005 to 2006, he served as interim president.
While president at the University of Iowa, Rawlings chaired the Governor’s Commission on Foreign Language Studies and International Education from 1988 to 1991. He also oversaw major research enhancements, particularly in the Life Sciences and the College of Medicine.
Prior to the University of Iowa, Rawlings spent 18 years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a faculty member, chairman of the Classics Department, associate vice chancellor for instruction, and then vice president for academic affairs for the University of Colorado system.
A national spokesperson for higher education, Rawlings has served as chair of both the Association of American Universities and the Ivy Council of Presidents. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he serves on the boards of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Haverford College, and the National Academy Foundation.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Rawlings graduated from Haverford College, with honors in classics, and received his Ph.D. degree, also in classics, from Princeton University. His scholarly publications include a book, The Structure of Thucydides' History (Princeton University Press, 1981).
Rawlings’ wife, Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings, is a professional translator with a master’s degree in French from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa. She has translated and collaborated in translating a number of books from French to English, particularly in the fields of Greek and Latin Literature and Ancient History.
The Rawlingses have four children and five grandchildren.