Alivisatos is currently immersed in a listening tour with the UChicago community and its partners to “realize the engaged University of Chicago.” Engagement means enhancing connections within the University community, Alivisatos said, and creating an environment in which all members feel welcomed and included, and able to “have candid conversations and vigorous debates.”
Beyond the campus, he added, engagement will require the University to respond to “those we serve, locally, nationally and globally,” and to live up to “our responsibilities to our neighbors as an anchor institution on the South Side.”
“At the University of Chicago,” Alivisatos said, “some of the world’s best thinkers, scholars, researchers, educators, analysts, advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and creators are unified by a distinctive culture and a set of core values. … By working to realize the engaged University of Chicago, we will reach higher levels of achievement than ever before, and we will bring entirely new benefits to humanity.”
Although in-person attendance at Rockefeller Chapel was limited due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, many more watched via webcast from across the University, the city and the other parts of the world.
After a campus watch party at Max Palevsky Cinema, Nitika Nautiyal, MBA’14, said she appreciated Alivisatos’ message of engagement and willingness to take advice. As a UChicago alum and parent of a Laboratory Schools student, she felt it was important to hear the new president’s priorities: “You don’t get to complain about things when you don’t engage.”
‘What brings us together’
Alivisatos, AB’81, is also the second UChicago alum to assume the presidency, following Edward H. Levi, LAB’28, PhB’32, JD’35. Two fellow alumni noted this connection in their welcome remarks.
Jennifer Kennedy, AB’02, director of the UChicago Student Centers, highlighted Alivisatos’ “reputation as a collaborator,” and expressed the willingness of staff to help “realize the full potential of this University we love so much.”
“No matter how far we go,” said Margaret Mueller, AM’97, president of the UChicago Alumni Board, “what brings us together is our University of Chicago experience.”