Fall Update: University projects take shape on campus and worldwide

As members of the University community return to campus this fall, they are finding that many programs and projects on campus and around the world reached significant milestones during the summer months.

In September the University welcomed approximately 70 new faculty members, more than 3,600 newly enrolled graduate and professional students, and more than 1,300 members of the incoming College Class of 2014. In keeping with longstanding trends, the College received more applications for this class than ever before, and the incoming students reflect the highest levels of academic achievement and a remarkable degree of creativity and diversity. Applications also continued to increase for most graduate and professional programs.

The University took the next steps in the historic expansion of its faculty, a process that will create an estimated 60 new appointments across the institution for tenure–track and tenured faculty. In June, Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum announced that his office had reviewed and accepted the first round of recommendations for 22 new assistant professor positions from a multidisciplinary committee that included the Deans of the College, Divinity School, Humanities Division, Physical Sciences Division and Social Sciences Division. Searches for the new appointments were authorized to begin in July. More information is posted on the Office of the Provost web site.

In July, the Medical Center and the Booth School of Business each announced the appointment of new deans. Kenneth Polonsky, a prominent diabetes researcher and former chair of the Department of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, was named Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University. Sunil Kumar, an expert in operations research at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, was appointed the next dean of Chicago Booth. Polonsky’s appointment took effect on Oct. 1; Kumar will begin his term as dean on Jan. 1, 2011. Also in July, Neil Guterman began his term as Dean of the School of Social Service Administration, and Margaret M. Mitchell started her new position as Dean of the Divinity School.

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing opened with a celebration Sept. 14–15 with more than 600 members of the University community, alumni, friends and Chinese academics and officials. Events included a series of academic panels and a forum in which four Nobel laureates discussed the importance of international collaboration. The 23,000 square–foot Center has begun hosting academic conferences in a wide array of disciplines, including family and labor economics, ink painting and quantum physics.

Entrepreneur and investment manager John A. “Mac” McQuown and his wife Leslie made a $25 million gift in June to the University to benefit Chicago Booth. The gift will go toward a planned Fama–Miller Center within Chicago Booth, to support the school’s tradition of finance research.

The Law School announced a new program in September to give full–tuition merit scholarships to 60 of the nation’s best law students, thanks to a $10 million gift from alumnus and University Trustee David M. Rubenstein, JD’73. Rubenstein and Law School Dean Michael Schill say the new initiative — the largest scholarship effort the Law School has ever undertaken — should enable more students to pursue careers in public service.

Work on the iconic Joe and Rika Mansueto Library visibly progressed over the summer, with completion of the steel grid structure and installation of the glass dome, which will house a distinctive new reading room and research space. The library, scheduled to open in spring of 2011, will include a cutting–edge preservation facility and an automated storage and retrieval system for up to 3.5 million volumes, keeping the library’s books and key archives at the heart of campus.

The foundation of the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts has been completed at 60th Street and Drexel Avenue, as the project moves toward a projected Spring 2012 opening. At the University of Chicago Medical Center, the “topping out” of the New Hospital Pavilion was celebrated on Sept. 23 as hospital leaders honored frontline employees and looked toward the pavilion’s opening in 2013.

Planning has proceeded for the Institute for Molecular Engineering to be housed within a new physical sciences building, following broad faculty input and approval of the Institute by the Council of the University Senate in February. The joint University–Argonne search committee for the Institute’s founding director, supported by a generous naming gift from the Pritzker family, began its work over the spring and summer, and plans to bring leading candidates to campus fall quarter for interviews by faculty leaders.

HOK and Jamie Carpenter have been selected as the architects for the new science building, which will be built on the site of the Research Institutes building and will house the Institute for Molecular Engineering and portions of the Physical Sciences Division. Schematic designs will be completed this fall, and the Research Institutes building will be vacated beginning in early 2011 in preparation for the new construction.

Preliminary planning also got underway for the adaptive reuse of 5757 S. University Ave. and the McGiffert House at 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. After the Chicago Theological Seminary moves to a new facility south of the Midway in late 2011, 5757 S. University Ave. will provide space for the Dept. of Economics and the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. On Oct. 6, Architect Ann Beha and University officials held a community meeting (link to come) to explain the adaptive reuse concept and outline goals for the 5757 project, which will balance creative adaptations and necessary infrastructure upgrades with a deep respect for the iconic architecture of the building — a process that safeguards its future.

Planning for the renovation of McGiffert House, which will become the new home of the Seminary Coop Bookstore, is proceeding on a parallel track. The widely respected Chicago architectural firm of Tigerman McCurry has been selected to design the bookstore’s new home.

An important milestone arrived in June for the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, when the University of Chicago Charter School granted its first high school diplomas to 51 seniors. Ninety–eight percent of the graduates were accepted to colleges and universities. In August, UEI hosted a prominent education event, the Ebony Education Roundtable, in conjunction with Johnson Publishing and MSNBC. The nationally televised event was held at International House. The sessions included exchanges among education leaders from UEI, the Chicago Public Schools, the U.S. Department of Education and private educational groups.

Joint efforts by the University, the City and community groups to revitalize the 53rd Street Corridor continued to grow and bear fruit. The Harper Court mixed–use redevelopment took another step toward its 2011 groundbreaking with a successful review by the Community Development Commission — a key benchmark in the City’s permitting and approval process.

The commitment and enthusiasm of the University’s worldwide alumni was evident during June’s well–attended Alumni Weekend. In addition, more than 250 alumni leaders from around the world convened on campus Oct. 8–9 for the annual Volunteer Caucus, and alumni were central to the success of summer events held in China, Chile, and across the globe.

Meanwhile a number of events enriched the lives of community for residents and provided support for local businesses. Celebrate Hyde Park, a new event that featured national and local bands, as well as food and art, drew roughly 20,000 people to 53rd Street on July 25. The renowned Hyde Park Jazz Festival, produced by HyPa (the Hyde Park Alliance for arts and Culture) and the Hyde Park Jazz Society, came to music venues around campus and Hyde Park in September. The University also teamed up with HyPa to create Art Here Art Now, a showcase of the South Side art scene that will be on display in storefronts on 53rd Street throughout October.