Robert J. Zimmer to serve as chairman of Marine Biological Laboratory Board of Trustees

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer will serve as the next chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory. This proposed step was met with unanimous support at the MBL board’s meeting on Nov. 2. His term will begin after the board’s April 2014 meeting. He succeeds Jack Rowe, who has served as board chairman since May 2006.

Acting with the advice of the MBL board, Zimmer also appointed David B. Fithian, UChicago vice president and secretary, as secretary of the MBL Corporation. In addition, University of Chicago Executive Vice President David A. Greene was named to the MBL board this past August, along with Eric D. Isaacs, director of Argonne National Laboratory, and John McCarter Jr., an emeritus trustee of the University. Greene, who will become president of Colby College in July 2014, will remain on the 33-member MBL board.

Under the affiliation between the MBL and the University of Chicago, the president of the University is responsible for appointing MBL board members, with advice from current members. Following the November meeting, newly appointed members of the Board of Trustees were announced: Edward P. Owens, retired partner of Wellington Management Company LLC; and William T. Speck, professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“President Zimmer is a powerful advocate for the MBL,” said MBL President and Director Joan V. Ruderman. “Under his leadership, the Board of Trustees will preserve and enrich the MBL’s world-renowned research and educational programs and expand our role as an intellectual destination. His personal experience in providing university leadership for Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab also will be a tremendous asset as we implement this new affiliation between the MBL and the University of Chicago.”

Zimmer said the MBL is in an excellent position to build upon its broad impact on innovation and education in the biological sciences. “I am deeply grateful to Jack Rowe for his strong leadership and for his partnership as we planned the historic affiliation between these institutions,” Zimmer said. “We will continue to advance the values of creative collaboration that have always sustained the MBL and the University of Chicago.”

The MBL is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Mass., in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution. In July 2013, the MBL formed an affiliation with the University of Chicago. The affiliation strengthens both institutions’ missions of leadership and innovation in scientific research and education. It also builds upon shared values and historical ties between Chicago and the MBL, which was led by UChicago faculty members Charles O. Whitman and Frank R. Lillie for the first four decades of its existence.

About the new Trustees

Robert J. Zimmer: Zimmer became the 13th president of the University of Chicago on July 1, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Zimmer was a UChicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades, specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry, Lie groups and differential geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as chairman of the Department of Mathematics, deputy provost, and vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as provost at Brown University from 2002-06, returning to Chicago in 2006 to become UChicago president. As president of the University, he serves as chair of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory and chair of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He is a member of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, and also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010. He is on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Zimmer earned his AB from Brandeis University and a PhD in mathematics from Harvard University. He joined the Chicago faculty in 1977. He was also on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1975 to 1977 and has held visiting positions at Harvard University and at institutions in Israel, France, Australia, Switzerland and Italy.

Edward P. Owens: Owens is a retired partner of Wellington Management Company LLC, where he spent 38 years researching and investing in life science and chemical industry companies. He managed the mutual fund Vanguard Health Care Fund for 28 years from its inception until his retirement. Owens now serves on the boards of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc., the University of Virginia College Foundation, and the Wellington Management Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard University. He also served as an officer in the nuclear submarine service of the U.S. Navy.

William T. Speck: Speck is a professor of pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was the MBL’s director and chief executive officer from 2001-06. He is a member of the MBL Society and served on the Laboratory’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2000, when he joined the MBL staff as interim director and CEO. Speck received a BA from Rutgers University and an MD from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Speck has held appointments in both the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, where he directed the Division of Infectious Diseases. He is the former chief executive officer of Cleveland-based Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and president and CEO of the Presbyterian Hospital. Speck currently sits on the boards of Gill St. Bernard’s School, Hadassah Medical Organization and Citymeals-on-Wheels.

About the Secretary of the MBL Corporation

David B. Fithian: As vice president and secretary of the University of Chicago,  Fithian promotes, facilitates and supports governance practices across the University and directly manages certain governing boards and advisory bodies. He is the officer with primary responsibility for coordinating the work of the Board of Trustees in Chicago, in other cities in the United States, and at University facilities abroad. In collaboration with the deans, Fithian provides central administrative support for the University’s Visiting Committee Program; Visiting Committees, which are appointed by the Board of Trustees, pair civic and business leaders with divisions, schools, and some academic departments, for advice, advocacy and philanthropic support. In addition, Fithian oversees the Office of University Events and Ceremonies and is the custodian of the University seal and mace. He also facilitates the appointment and work of the University Marshal. Fithian serves as president of the Board of Directors of the University’s Quadrangle Club and is also a trustee of Court Theatre, and a director of Chapin Hall. Before coming to Chicago in June 2007, Fithian served as associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he also served as secretary of the faculty. Before that, he served in a number of other administrative positions at Harvard, including assistant dean of Harvard College and secretary of the Administrative Board of Harvard College. Fithian received his BA from Clark University and his MA, MPhil. and PhD from Yale University.