Cristian Samper Announces Resignation As Director of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

Cristian Samper, a biologist and international leader in the field of conservation biology, announced his resignation from the National Museum of Natural History where he has served as director since 2003. Samper was Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian from March 2007 until July 2008, when he returned to the Museum of Natural History. Samper will continue as director through July.

Samper is leaving the Smithsonian to become president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society headquartered in New York City.

“It has been a privilege to serve at the Smithsonian as director of this great museum, with a team of dedicated professionals and act as a steward of the largest natural history collection in the world,” said Samper. “As a tropical biologist, I recognize the urgent need to conserve the natural and cultural diversity of this planet. It is my goal to contribute to these vital efforts as head of the Wildlife Conservation Society.”

Samper took over as Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian at the request of the Board of Regents when then-Secretary Lawrence Small announced his resignation March 27, 2007. Samper immediately stepped into the position, taking a leave from the directorship of Natural History. In the 15 months he served as Acting Secretary, Samper oversaw a number of governance reforms at the Institution; he reinstated scholarship as the highest priority following several years of emphasis on funding for infrastructure and needed building repairs and maintenance, established a task force to examine the relationship of the business operation—now Smithsonian Enterprises—to the Institution and represented the Smithsonian at several congressional hearings. He also started planning for the first Smithsonian wide capital campaign.

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