Editor’s note: This message was sent Sept. 1 from President Paul Alivisatos to members of the University community.
I am thrilled today to be back on the University of Chicago campus on my first day as president. Over these past few months, I’ve deeply appreciated the opportunity to renew my relationship with the University community through visits and a series of wide-ranging conversations.
Today, I’m writing to share some initial impressions and set the stage for what I hope will be a series of engaging and informative listening sessions over Autumn Quarter, leading in turn to a set of actions and initiatives.
But first, I want to thank Bob Zimmer, whose 15-year tenure as president, and impact on the University, has been extraordinary. I’m very much looking forward to working with Bob in his role as chancellor.
I want to acknowledge the resilience and creativity that the UChicago community has exhibited during the pandemic. Despite the many challenges, UChicago is every bit as vibrant as I recall from my student years. The University has grown and gained in capacity and impact in remarkable ways, and there are many opportunities to explore and develop for the future.
I plan to devote the fall to listening and planning with you. To frame this work, I’d like to share some reflections on what I have heard thus far. I’ve asked faculty and researchers to share a bit about the research questions they are most interested in, students to tell me about what excites them most about their studies and experiences, staff to share with me what binds them to the community, and alumni to share what matters to them most about their UChicago experiences.
While I’ve had the chance to hear from just a fraction of the University community so far, the sheer scope and originality of the research and education, and the rigor and imagination of the thinking brought to each topic are truly inspiring to me.
Even as the distinctive approaches to foundational discovery and education at the University of Chicago remain vibrant, it is clear that a meaningful transformation is underway. Across campus, I have heard from many people about their desire to see the University become more engaged with the problems of the city, the nation, and the world, while seeking to actively translate their work and learning into human, societal, cultural, economic, and environmental impact.