Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum appointed President of Caltech

Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Physics and a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 30 years, has been appointed the next President of the California Institute of Technology.

Rosenbaum’s appointment is effective July 1, 2014. He will step down as provost at the end of UChicago’s Winter Quarter, and remain on the faculty through the academic year.

Rosenbaum was named provost in 2007, overseeing academic programs across the University. He previously served as Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory, from 2002 to 2006; directed the James Franck Institute from 1995 to 2001; and served as director of University's Materials Research Laboratory from 1991 to 1994.

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer credited Rosenbaum for leading a wide variety of initiatives across the academic spectrum that have built upon the University’s momentum, even in the face of a difficult economy and other external pressures.

“During times that have been challenging for higher education as a whole, he has helped to strengthen the University of Chicago and position it for even greater eminence. In addition to helping guide the University through the financial crisis in a manner that preserved our highest priorities and values, he oversaw an historic expansion of the faculty during the same period,” Zimmer wrote to faculty, students and staff. “I am grateful to Tom for his extraordinary leadership.” 

In his email, Zimmer credited Rosenbaum with reshaping the provost’s office to support initiatives in graduate education and the arts, and demonstrating a commitment to diversity through the hiring of a wide array of eminent scholars, the significant expansion of financial assistance for students, and the establishment of the first two child care centers for faculty in the University’s history.

Zimmer also noted a number of landmark initiatives launched during Rosenbaum’s tenure as provost, including the Institute for Molecular Engineering, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, as well as completion of the Mansueto Library and the Logan Center for the Arts. 

In a message to faculty, Rosenbaum talked about the intellectual climate that drew him to Chicago in the first place, and the many colleagues, students and staff who collaborated with him and made the University his home for three decades.

“I have been shaped by and will carry with me the distinctive values of the University of Chicago, from its commitment to unflinching inquiry to its generosity of spirit,” Rosenbaum wrote.

Rosenbaum received his bachelor's degree in physics with honors from Harvard University, and both an MA and PhD in physics from Princeton University. He became an expert on the quantum mechanical nature of materials, conducting research at Bell Laboratories and at IBM Watson Research Center before joining the Chicago faculty in 1983.

His honors include an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award and the William McMillan Award for “outstanding contributions to condensed matter physics.” Rosenbaum is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rosenbaum’s appointment marks the second time in as many months that a senior leader at the University of Chicago has been appointed to a presidency. In September, Colby College in Waterville, Maine, announced that University of Chicago Executive Vice President David A. Greene would become Colby’s next president on July 1, 2014.