David J. Skorton

David Jan Skorton is an American physician and academic. He has been president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) since July 15, 2019.[1] Prior to the AAMC, he led the Smithsonian Institution, the national research museums of the United States, as its 13th Secretary from July 2015 to June 2019.[2] A cardiologist, he was president of Cornell University from 2006 to 2015.[3][4] Before arriving at Cornell, he served as president of the University of Iowa, where he had been a longtime professor and then vice president. He began his career as a professor of medicine and engineering.[5]

David J. Skorton
David J. Skorton official photo.jpg
5th President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Assumed office
July 15, 2019
Preceded byDarrell Kirch
13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
In office
July 1, 2015 – June 15, 2019
Preceded byG. Wayne Clough
Succeeded byLonnie Bunch
12th President of Cornell University
In office
July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2015
Preceded byJeffrey S. Lehman
Succeeded byElizabeth Garrett
19th President of the University of Iowa
In office
March 1, 2003 – June 30, 2006
Preceded byMary Sue Coleman
Succeeded bySally Mason
Personal details
David Jan Skorton
Spouse(s)Robin L. Davisson
Alma materNorthwestern University
Academic background
Academic work
DisciplineBiomedical engineering
InstitutionsUniversity of Iowa
Cornell University


Skorton studied at the University of California, Los Angeles before transferring to Northwestern University, where he was awarded a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1970 and an M.D. in 1974.[6] He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at UCLA, where he also served as chief medical resident.

University of IowaEdit

Skorton began his career in Iowa in 1980, when he became an instructor at the University of Iowa. In 1981, he was named an assistant professor in internal medicine, and in 1982 he became an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering.[7] While at the University of Iowa, he also served as vice president for research and vice president for external relations.

Skorton was selected to serve the state as the 19th president of the university.[8] He was appointed by the Board of Regents on January 5, 2003, and he served until 2006.

Cornell UniversityEdit

Skorton's official portrait

Skorton was named as the 12th president of Cornell University on January 21, 2006. He stayed at Iowa for the duration of the 2006 spring semester and officially assumed the Cornell presidency on July 1, 2006.[6] His inauguration occurred on September 7, 2006. In celebration of the occasion, the Cornell Dairy unveiled a new flavor of ice cream, "Banana-Berry Skorton."[9] In 2014 Cornell announced that he would be departing to join the Smithsonian Institution, with his final day as president being June 30, 2015.[10]

Skorton has been cited as one factor in increased donations to the university.[11] During his tenure as president, Cornell's capital campaign has raised over $4 billion in six years' time, despite a global recession.[12]

According to Cornell University, Skorton's base salary as president was $686,683 for 2009–2010.[13] While president, Skorton maintained two academic appointments, as a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and as a professor in Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering on Cornell's Ithaca campus.[citation needed]

Education reformEdit

Skorton chaired the Business-Higher Education Forum and the Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships.[6] He established a University Diversity Council at Cornell University in 2006 and presently serves as its co-chair.[14] He also writes monthly guest columns for the independent student newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, a bi-monthly column for the Cornell Alumni Magazine, and blogs for Forbes.com and the Huffington Post.[6] Skorton also spearheaded the Reimagining Cornell initiative.[15] In a winter 2010 interview with Imagineer magazine, he described the program:

Cornell NYC TechEdit

In 2011, Skorton led Cornell's effort to build a new applied sciences campus in New York City, in response to a competition designed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to boost the city's technology startup sector. In partnership with the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Cornell was selected as the competition's winner on December 19, 2011.[16] In exchange for free land and $100 million for infrastructure upgrades, Cornell promised to invest over $2 billion in the new campus, called Cornell NYC Tech, over the next three decades.[16]

Construction of the campus began in 2014 on the site of the Goldwater Hospital Campus on Roosevelt Island.[17] On May 21, 2012, Skorton appeared at Google's New York headquarters to announce that the tech company would donate up to 58,000 square feet of space to house CornellNYC Tech until the campus opened on Roosevelt Island in 2017.[17]

Immigration reformEdit

Skorton was a proponent of immigration reform, testifying on behalf of the Association of American Universities before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security in support of the DREAM Act[18] and specifically to allow more skilled immigrants to live and work in the United States.[19]

Higher education financesEdit

Skorton argued that preserving college affordability must be a major priority of universities and Congress. Cornell substantially increased need-based financial aid under his tenure to off-set tuition increases.[20]

Greek life and hazingEdit

Skorton took national public positions on fraternity hazing and suicide prevention. Skorton pledged to end hazing in the fraternity and sorority system, and wrote an op-ed on the topic in The New York Times.[21]

Suicide preventionEdit

In 2010, Skorton responded to three student suicides[22] by speaking out nationally for suicide prevention, as well as authorizing the construction of barriers on the bridges over Cornell's gorges and increasing resources for counseling on campus. Skorton also spoke out about the continued importance of the humanities to society.[23] The barriers were removed in favor of nets that were installed under each major bridge - a historically common place for suicides at Cornell.[24]

Gun violenceEdit

Skorton joined eight other University presidents in signing a statement addressing gun violence in January 2013. The document called for the United States to "confront its culture of violence, particularly violence perpetrated by guns".[25]

Smithsonian InstitutionEdit

Skorton became the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution on July 1, 2015.[1] During his tenure the Smithsonian opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture, its first new facility on the National Mall since the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004.[26]

He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2017.[27]

In December 2018, the Smithsonian announced[28] that Skorton would be leaving his position in June 2019 to become president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Lonnie Bunch, director of the African American History Museum, succeeded Skorton and became the 14th Secretary on June 16, 2019.[29]

Association of American Medical CollegesEdit

David Skorton is president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.[30]

Diversity, Equity, and InclusionEdit

When he assumed the presidency of the AAMC, Skorton said he would focus on three challenges: diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); mental health and substance use disorders; and access and affordability of care.[30]

In November 2019, he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post that called for the Supreme Court to consider the negative effects that would result from deporting the approximately 27,000 healthcare workers with DACA status. This was just before the Supreme Court began its DACA hearings.[30] In June 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled that DACA could not be ended, Skorton praised the decision, stating that the AAMC was appreciative that the ruling allowed those healthcare workers to continue providing care throughout the U.S.[31]

In January 2020, he issued a call to action to medical schools as the first step in an initiative to improve equity in pay, promotion, and other areas for women.[30] In December 2019, the AAMC released data that showed that, for the first time in history, women comprise the majority of enrolled medical students in the U.S. at 50.5%.[32]

In response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of structural racism on people in vulnerable communities, Skorton argued that there is a need for a national standardized system for the collection of race and ethnicity data related to the pandemic.[33] He and David Acosta, chief diversity and inclusion officer at the AAMC, released a statement that the coronavirus pandemic “laid bare” the racial health inequalities that lead to health disparities, poor health outcomes, and lower life expectancy seen in black communities.[34]

Coronavirus ResponseEdit

After less than a year in office, Skorton was responsible for leading the AAMC’s 171 medical schools and over 400 teaching hospitals and systems through the initial phases of the coronavirus pandemic.[30]

In July 2020, Skorton joined other executives at the AAMC in issuing a statement in support of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top federal infectious disease official.[35][36] Later that month, Skorton oversaw the release of a proposed plan to reset the U.S.’s response to the pandemic. The plan consisted of nine immediate actions, such as increasing production of key supplies and establishing national criteria for stay-at-home orders; and two longer-term actions, including broadening health insurance.[37] In August 2020, Skorton released a statement that the AAMC was alarmed at changes to the CDC’s testing guidelines for individuals not showing symptoms of the disease.[38]


Selected publicationsEdit

  • Truesdell SC, Skorton DJ, Lauer RM. Life insurance for children with cardiovascular disease. Pediatrics 1986; 77:687-91.
  • Collins SM, Skorton DJ, editors. Cardiac Imaging and Image Processing. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986.
  • Thedens DR, Skorton DJ, Fleagle SR. Methods of graph searching for border detection in image sequences with applications to cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. IEEE Trans Med Imaging 1995; 14:42-55.
  • Skorton DJ, editor-in-chief, Brundage BH, Schelbert HR, Wolf GL, eds., Braunwald E, consulting ed. Marcus Cardiac Imaging. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1996.
  • Skorton DJ and Davisson R. No Foreign Exchange Devalues Our Universities. The Wall Street Journal: Manager's Journal, August 2, 2005, p. B2.
  • Skorton DJ, chair. Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships Final Report: Prepared for Governor David A. Paterson. December 14, 2009[45]


  1. ^ a b "Smithsonian Secretary Skorton to lead AAMC". Modern Healthcare. December 20, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  2. ^ "Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton Resigns After Raising $2 Billion for the Institution". Hyperallergic. December 21, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  3. ^ O'Neal Parker, Lonnae (March 10, 2014). "Smithsonian Institution names Cornell president David J. Skorton as new leader". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (March 17, 2014). "David Skorton, Cornell University's highly regarded president, is to lead the Smithsonian". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "Smithsonian Regents Name David Skorton 13th Smithsonian Secretary - Newsdesk". newsdesk.si.edu. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Office of the President: About the President". Cornell University. Archived from the original on July 7, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  7. ^ "David J. Skorton". Office of the President. Cornell University. Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  8. ^ Schoon, Amy (January 10, 2003). "The president among us: David J. Skorton named Iowa's 19th leader". Archived from the original on May 3, 2013.
  9. ^ Barnes, Chris (September 7, 2006). "A 'Berry' Tasty Tradition: Ice Cream Named for Skorton". The Cornell Daily Sun. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  10. ^ March 10; 2014. "President David Skorton to lead Smithsonian Institution". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved June 12, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Frank, Robert (October 21, 2007). "Invisible Handcuffs". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  12. ^ The Campaign for Cornell
  13. ^ "Cornell University". Charity Navigator. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  14. ^ "Cornell's Commitment to Diversity: University Diversity Council". Cornell University. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  15. ^ "Cornell University: Reimagining Cornell : Home". Cornell.edu. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Cornell wins NYC Tech Campus bid". Cornell Chronicle. December 19, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Mcgeehan, Patrick (May 21, 2012). "Cornell's High-Tech Campus Will Have a Temporary Home at Google". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "Immigration, Refugees and Border Security". US Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  19. ^ Skorton, David J. (August 1, 2011). "Immigration Reform: The Economic Argument". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  20. ^ Otani, Akane (November 17, 2011). "University Spends All-Time High on Financial Aid". The Cornell Daily Sun. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  21. ^ Skorton, David J. (August 23, 2011). "A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Gabriel, Trip (March 16, 2010). "After 3 Suspected Suicides, Cornell Reaches Out". The New York Times.
  23. ^ "Preventing the Youngest Suicides". CBS News. October 3, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Skorton signs AAU statement addressing gun violence". Cornell Chronicle. January 3, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  26. ^ "Smithsonian Institution", Wikipedia, June 7, 2019, retrieved June 12, 2019
  27. ^ "Newly Elected - April 2017 - American Philosophical Society". September 15, 2017. Archived from the original on September 15, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  28. ^ Bowley, Graham (December 20, 2018). "David J. Skorton Is Leaving the Smithsonian for a Health Care Nonprofit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  29. ^ "Lonnie Bunch III Takes Helm Of The Smithsonian: 'I Feel The Weight Of History'". NPR.org. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  30. ^ a b c d e Bohanon, Mariah. "AAMC Head and DEI Advocate David Skorton Faces COVID-19 Crisis After Less Than a Year in Office". Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  31. ^ "What the Supreme Court's ruling on DACA means for health care". www.advisory.com. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  32. ^ "Women Now the Majority of U.S. Medical Students, AAMC Data Reveals". Diverse. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  33. ^ "AAMC CEO says better testing needed if nation is to reopen". Modern Healthcare. April 16, 2020. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  34. ^ "Racism as a Public Health Crisis". WorldHealth. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  35. ^ "Trump retweets game show host Chuck Woolery's baseless claim that 'everyone is lying' about coronavirus". CNBC. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  36. ^ "Medical Groups Back Fauci Against White House Criticism". MedPageToday. July 14, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  37. ^ "An expert-backed roadmap to reset our pandemic response".
  38. ^ "Providers speak out against new testing guidelines". Healthcare Finance News. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  39. ^ "National Academy of Medicine".
  40. ^ "American Academy of Arts & Sciences".
  41. ^ "Arts & Sciences Advocacy Award - Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences". www.ccas.net. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  42. ^ "APS Member History". Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  43. ^ "Council on Foreign Relations".
  44. ^ "Elected Fellows American Association for the Advancement of Science".
  45. ^ "Empire State Development: NYSTAR" (PDF). Nystar.state.ny.us. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2013.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Mary Sue Coleman
President of the University of Iowa
Succeeded by
Sally Mason
Gary Fethke (Interim)
Preceded by
Hunter R. Rawlings III
President of Cornell University
Succeeded by
Elizabeth Garrett
Government offices
Preceded by
G. Wayne Clough
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Succeeded by
Lonnie Bunch