The University of Chicago has appointed one of the world’s most influential astronomers, Wendy L. Freedman, as a University Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Freedman currently serves as the Crawford H. Greenewalt Director of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Pasadena, Calif. She also has served as chair of the board of directors of the Giant Magellan Telescope project since its inception in 2003, a role she will retain at UChicago. Freedman’s appointment will be effective Sept. 1.
University Professors represent the highest scholarly aspirations of the University of Chicago. They are selected from outside the University on the basis of their eminence and potential for broad impact on campus. Freedman is the 20th person to hold a University Professorship, and the seventh active faculty member holding that title.
“Wendy is a scholar of extraordinary ambition and accomplishment. Her research has had an unmistakable influence on her field, while her active engagement with a broader public has captured imaginations and helped convey the importance of the work going on in astronomy,” said Provost Eric D. Isaacs. “We are delighted to welcome her to the University of Chicago, where she joins a tradition of scholars who have helped shape how we understand our universe.”
“This is a real game-changer,” said Angela Olinto, the Homer J. Livingston Professor and chair of Astronomy & Astrophysics at UChicago. “We will become the world leader in optical astronomy with the vision that Wendy will bring to the University of Chicago. Her appointment will be great for our department, for our faculty, for the students and for the future of the Giant Magellan Telescope. She did an outstanding job in her 30 years at Carnegie, and she will do a brilliant job here.”
Freedman has enjoyed an extraordinarily productive career at the Carnegie Observatories. She received a Carnegie Fellowship at the Observatories in 1984, joined the faculty in 1987 and became director in 2003.
“For me there’s a bittersweet quality to this move, because I’ve had a great 30 years at Carnegie,” Freedman said. “At the same time, I am tremendously excited to join a very exciting and dynamic faculty in all kinds of academic disciplines at the University of Chicago, including the sciences and the humanities, and I am delighted to begin a new chapter in my research career.
“I’m also looking forward to continuing my leadership role in the Giant Magellan Telescope. The University of Chicago is an active and dynamic partner in that endeavor.”