Elizabeth Garrett, who in July became the first woman to serve as Cornell University's president, has died a month after learning she had colon cancer, the Ivy League school said on Monday.
Garrett, who was 52, made the diagnosis public in early February, saying she had begun "an aggressive treatment program" and was optimistic about being able to "manage this illness."
The university said two weeks ago that she had undergone surgery.
"From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history," said Robert Harrison, chairman of the board of trustees at Cornell.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo paid tribute to Garrett, saying she believed that challenging the status quo was part of her responsibility as a leader.
"As the first woman to lead Cornell University as its president, she lived that promise herself," he said in a statement.
Before her appointment as Cornell's 13th president, Garrett served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
A legal scholar who worked as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall early in her career, she was also a professor of law, government and management at Cornell, and had been on USC's law faculty before taking the administrative jobs there. Garrett earlier taught law at the University of Chicago.
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