And the next president is...


What it lacked in suspense, this morning’s presidential press conference made up for in enthusiasm. Everyone assembled in the Ida Noyes Library expected University of Chicago Board of Trustees Chair Jim Crown to announce, as he did, that Robert J. Zimmer had been elected, “by a unanimous vote, to succeed Don Randel as our 13th president.”

Also unanimous, Crown told the audience, was the level of respect for Chicago that he and Robert Pippin, who chaired the faculty committee advising the trustee search committee, encountered in their seven-month travels around the country to seek and sound out candidates for the post. It was apparent, he said, that other institutions pay a great deal of attention to Chicago “and they especially pay attention to our leadership.”

With cameras clicking like cicadas, Crown introduced Chicago’s next leader, an insider turned outsider who’ll be returning to Hyde Park after four years as provost at Brown University, where he is credited with strengthening both research and teaching. “I am so pleased and eager to be able to lead this University,” Zimmer said, noting that Chicago’s path to continued success must remain based on the institution’s “singular commitment to inquiry.”

Then came the inquiries from the floor. In a short Q & A, the president-elect voiced confidence on the renewal of Chicago’s contract to manage Argonne National Laboratory and emphasized the University’s roles in the city of Chicago as neighbor, citizen, and educator. But he was a bit more hesitant when a Maroon reporter asked his opinion of Max Palevsky’s architecture: “The colors are striking.”

Welcome back to Chicago, Mr. Zimmer.


Photo: President-elect Robert J. Zimmer addresses the Ida Noyes audience (top). Post-conference, Trustee Chair Jim Crown (right) chats with Zimmer and the University's outgoing president, Don M. Randel. Photos by Dan Dry.

March 10, 2006