Paul Streeter, M.B.A. ’95, Cornell’s vice president for budget and planning, has announced plans to retire on June 30, 2021, at the end of this academic and fiscal year.
The university plans to launch a national search for a successor.
Streeter, who will have worked at Cornell for 35 years as of next spring, began his long career as a cash manager in the treasurer’s office and has worked in the university’s audit office, for three separate colleges and for central administration. He served as interim vice president for budget and planning from 2008-10, co-chairing a task force that developed a new budget model for the Ithaca campus and helping to bring the university through one of its toughest economic periods following the national recession and financial crisis.
He also has been instrumental this year in guiding the university’s financial planning through the current coronavirus pandemic.
“Very few people have the detailed and broad knowledge of Cornell, the dedication to the institution, and the unparalleled trust of faculty and staff that Paul Streeter has,” Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said. “He is a consummate team player, embodies fairness, listens to others’ views and is unflappable – key qualities that have served us all extremely well through difficult and challenging times.
Everyone sees Paul as a person who has no personal agenda other than the greater good and the best outcome for the institution. I will miss his wise counsel every day that I remain provost.”
When Streeter was appointed vice president in 2014, the role had been newly restructured, with a dual reporting line to both the provost and to Joanne DeStefano, vice president for finance and Cornell’s chief financial officer.
“Dual reporting is not always easy, but Paul embraced the role and was an integral part of both the provost’s and my staff which provided him greater institutional insight into our overall financial needs,” DeStefano said.
“One thing that has impressed me most about Paul is that he cares so much for the university and his decisions always have been made with its best interests at heart,” DeStefano said. She recalls that while serving as interim VP during the recession, Streeter was having back problems but never missed a meeting, several times calling in to participate in discussions from home while lying on the floor to ease the pain.
She noted that Streeter helped eliminate turnover in his office and helped to stabilize the university’s new budget model.
As vice president, Streeter serves as the senior administrator responsible for managing Cornell’s resources and the annual budgeting process, monitoring performance and providing leadership in applying university resources to meet institutional priorities and academic programming needs; he also engages with administrative leaders at Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech in New York City.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have two bosses who I have a tremendous amount of respect and trust for,” he said. “This relationship we created when we joined the reporting to the two of them, I think it’s a nice balance between supporting the provost on the internal resource allocation issues while also keeping the chief financial officer well informed and well engaged on how we’re spending money. It’s a check and balance, if you will, but it’s a real partnership, and the three of us work really well together.”
Streeter said that his experiences of working in administrative finance at the college and unit level, as well as his several positions within central administration, have helped him understand different perspectives and needs throughout the university and has been instrumental to his overall approach.
“There’s a tremendous spirit around Cornell of people wanting to do the right thing,” Streeter said. “When folks understand what the objectives are behind different actions , whether they fully agree or not, there’s a real sense of support for each other that I have seen across my colleague group over the years. Trust comes into it in a big way. Working through really difficult issues with folks who have the best interest of the university always at heart makes it a lot easier to go through. There are a lot of really good people around campus – and I’ve been so fortunate to work with a lot of them in my immediate work groups and as campus colleagues .”
Streeter said he doesn’t yet have any specific plans for retirement, other than to have more flexibility and time to see family and friends and to devote to volunteer activities. While he participated in and completed an Ironman Triathlon last year, something he said “was a real nice balance with work” that he enjoyed, he said he has no plans to compete in another.
As for advice for his successor?
“Really engage with colleagues across campus,” Streeter said. “There’s such diversity in operations across campus and anyone coming into this role has to be willing to take the time to learn about that diversity, respect it, enjoy it, and serve the different needs across campus. The old adage, ‘one size fits all’ does not fit Cornell at all very well.”