“Beth was simply a remarkable human being — a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service, and had a profound, positive impact on the many lives that she touched,” Robert Harrison, chairman of Cornell’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
Previously, Garrett had been provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Southern California.
She was inaugurated at Cornell in September.
“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Garrett,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Throughout her accomplished career, and especially as president of Cornell University, Elizabeth was a visionary leader who was wholeheartedly committed to furthering the education and growth of those around her. She devoted her life to creating a better future for everyone, and she understood that in order to accomplish that, part of her responsibility as a leader was to boldly challenge the status quo. As the first woman to lead Cornell University as its President, she lived that promise herself. Elizabeth’s passing is a great loss not only for her university, but for our state. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to all of her many friends and loved ones.”
The university held a campus-wide moment of silence for Garrett Monday.
The details of her memorial service have not yet been released.