World Bank executive to lead University’s global engagement

Ian H. Solomon, who brings experience in international development, diplomacy, business and higher education, has been appointed Vice President for Global Engagement at the University of Chicago, effective June 1.

Since 2010, Solomon has served the Obama administration as United States Executive Director of the World Bank Group, championing innovation in international development.

Prior to the World Bank, Solomon served as senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and four years as legislative counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. He was associate dean at Yale Law School and a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company, Inc. in New York.

As Vice President for Global Engagement, Solomon will support a growing number of international programs and partnerships, overseas centers and campuses, research collaborations, and global education opportunities for students. While helping to steward programs already under way, Solomon will collaborate extensively with faculty, deans and University administrators to lead the development of University strategies for engagement in key regions.

He also will help guide a more systematic approach to issues that span the University, including facilitating international student applications and financial aid, logistical support for scholars abroad, relations with governments in other nations, and international alumni relations and development.

“As a global research university, we are committed to supporting the scholarly collaborations and enriching student opportunities around the world,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Ian’s broad experience and dynamic leadership will allow us to bring the University’s resources to bear in support of those efforts, and to spark new forms of global engagement.”

Since the University’s founding, its scholars have collaborated with researchers and thought leaders from around the world, pioneering emerging fields of study, helping establish new ventures across the globe, and bringing top international scholars and ideas to Hyde Park. Some of its oldest global projects, such as the Oriental Institute’s Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt, and its dictionary projects, remain signature initiatives today.

The University’s presence overseas has grown dramatically in recent decades. Its innovative, faculty-led study abroad programs now teach about 550 undergraduates each year, in dozens of cities around the world. Chicago Booth educates executive MBA students from around the world at its campuses in London and Singapore.

The University is also exploring a new model of engagement through its international centers. Beginning with the Center in Paris in 2004, and growing significantly with the opening of the Center in Beijing, the University is creating independent platforms for scholarly collaboration and student learning across disciplines. Planning is under way to create a University-wide center in Delhi, India, as recommended by faculty.

“The University’s deep commitment to scholarship and interdisciplinary education, coupled with innovative approaches to international collaboration, put it in a unique position to shape 21st-century higher education,” Solomon said. “It is an honor to join this wonderful community of faculty, staff and students as we together help craft the global university of the future, with an impact on knowledge and learning across the globe.”

Reporting to Executive Vice President David Greene, Solomon will work closely with President Zimmer, Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum, faculty and administrators.

Solomon will also serve as a resource to and collaborate extensively with deans from across the University. Along with major initiatives such as the College’s Study Abroad programs and Chicago Booth’s global suite of programs and curricula, many academic divisions are pioneering new international projects, including the Neubauer Collegium’s work with humanists and humanistic social scientists around the world; programs in Chicago Harris and the Graham School that help train public officials from other nations; work in the School of Social Service Administration to help develop training institutions abroad; and the Global Health Initiative’s growing collection of programs.

“Whether it is maximizing visibility and resources for historic programs or helping to shape new initiatives, Ian’s experience in key governance, policy and executive roles will make an important contribution to the University,” said Greene.

Commenting on Solomon’s departure from his current position, World Bank President and former President of Dartmouth College Jim Yong Kim said, “For the last three years at the World Bank Group, Ian Solomon has been a leading voice for the poor around the world. We will greatly miss his commitment to poor and vulnerable people, his brilliant mind, and his discernment in critical moments. The University is very fortunate to have him.”

Solomon grew up as one of six children in a household headed by two New York City public school teachers. He earned his AB magna cum laude from Harvard University and his JD from Yale Law School. In addition to having lived in South Africa, Solomon has traveled extensively in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. He has served as chairman of the New Haven, Conn. Port Authority and on the board of the Shubert Theater in New Haven. He is the recipient of numerous awards and designations, and in 2012 was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.  

He will move with his wife and their two sons to Chicago this summer.