Jul
01

The doctor is in

The Smithsonian welcomes Dr. David J. Skorton, the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian in its 169-year history, who began his tenure July 1, 2015.

 

Smithsonian Secretary-elect David Skorton and his wife, Robin Davisson, greet Marie Dieng at the Smithsonian’s staff picnic on June 30, 2015.  Skorton begins his tenure as 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian July 1. (Photo by John Gibbons)

Smithsonian Secretary-elect David Skorton and his wife, Robin Davisson, greet Marie Dieng at the Smithsonian’s staff picnic on June 30, 2015. Skorton begins his tenure as 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian July 1. (Photo by John Gibbons)

Dr. David Skorton, 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, and his wife, Dr. Robin Davisson, made a surprise appearance at the Smithsonian staff picnic Tuesday, where they introduced themselves to staff, chatted with researchers and sampled some of the Peruvian goodies available at the 2015 Smithsonian Folklife festival.

Skorton, who assumes office today, is the first medical doctor to lead the Smithsonian. He is a cardiologist whose research focus is congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. Skorton served as president of Cornell University for nine years before joining the Smithsonian. Prior to that he was president of the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2006 and a member of its faculty for 26 years.

An ardent and nationally recognized supporter of the arts and humanities, Skorton has called for a national dialogue to emphasize the importance of supporting these disciplines as a wise investment in the future of the country. Skorton is also an avid musician who plays the flute and the saxophone.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1970 and his M.D. in 1974, both from Northwestern University. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979. He was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 9 years old. He is married to Robin L. Davisson, The Andrew Dickson White Professor of Molecular Physiology at Cornell University.

Skorton succeeds Wayne Clough, who retired from the Smithsonian in December 2014. Albert Horvath, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Finance and Administration and CFO, served as Acting Secretary for the six-month period between Clough’s departure and Skorton’s arrival.

More photos from the 2015 Staff Picnic >>

UPDATE: On his first day on the job, Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton discusses the past and the future; says he wants to emphasize the arts and humanities when they are being deemphasized nationally. Read more from Smithsonian.com >> 


Posted: 1 July 2015
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.