University administrators gathered on Zoom on Wednesday, April 6 for the spring term update. Moderated by Vice President of Communications Paul M. Rand, the conference covered topics ranging from incoming faculty to South Side-University partnerships for gun violence prevention.
President Paul Alivisatos kicked off the webinar by sharing his thoughts on his first seven months in office. Next, Rand mentioned recent accomplishments such as the reopening of the London campus and US News and World Report‘s listing the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice; Harris School of Public Policy; University of Chicago Law School; and Booth School of Business among the top three graduate schools in their respective fields.
“These rankings reflect what we know internally to be the amazing reality of this university, and so I’m happy to see it recognized in this way,” Alivisatos said. “But we also have our internal compass, and we are constantly strengthening every part of the university.”
These improvements include the introduction of UChicago Medicine’s plan for a new comprehensive cancer center. In addition to cancer treatment, the center will tackle larger issues such as health care disparities in Chicago.
“It will be an anchor for us in addressing issues of health inequity in South Chicago, and it will be a place where our biological discovery and work in areas of biotechnology will advance the quality care,” Alivisatos said.
Rand then introduced Provost Ka Yee Lee, who explained how the University supports those affected by the war in Ukraine. Lee detailed resources available on campus, such as aid and scholarships available to students directly affected by the conflict, UChicago Student Wellness appointment options, and the Rockefeller’s Quiet Reflection and Meditation Space. Memorial Chapel.
Lee also provided an update on the independent consultancy dedicated to analyzing UChicago’s historical, contemporary and future community relations. After months of discussion, the group met in person for the first time this week, with Alivisatos and Lee in attendance.
Among other University initiatives, Lee explained how a collaboration between UChicagoGRAD, the Council on Graduate Studies and the Office of International Affairs resulted in the creation of the International Graduate Student Advisory Council, which focuses on personal, professional and academics of international graduate students. Following recommendations from the Graduate Claims Policy and Process Committee, UChicagoGRAD created a role dedicated to reviewing claims policies, with an emphasis on education and training.
Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Eric Heath spoke about recent developments and the department’s goals. Lt. Col. Kyle Bowman assumed the role of chief of police for the University of Chicago Police Department on April 4.
“In considering the leadership, we were all impressed with his ability to strategize policing around community needs and his interest in engaging with diverse perspectives on public safety issues,” Heath said, adding that there would be opportunities to meet Bowman in the future.
Heath discussed the expansion of the Safety Ambassador Program, including increasing the hours and locations of campus safety officers. The University has increased hours of operation for the UGo NightRide shuttle service and improved wait times on the South route. He also mentioned the expansion of the Lyft Ride Smart program before inviting Derek Douglas, vice president of the Office of Civic Engagement, to speak.
Douglas relied on Heath’s discussion of safety. “One side of the equation is what we just heard from Eric Heath, with the number of public safety measures being implemented,” Douglas said. “But the other side of the equation is just as important, and that is getting to the root causes, seeing what we can do as an institution, working with our partners to try to address the issues. so that the violence doesn’t happen in the first place.”
Douglas referenced January’s virtual roundtable which highlighted existing university-community partnerships and looked at how the university could do more. One idea that arose was a violence prevention fund, which would expand the scale of the University’s work to eradicate the causes of gun violence. Douglas shared topics that came up when South Side directors and stakeholders were discussing the fund.
“As a collective community, we have been reminded of the pain [gun violence] causes. It has been made clear to us that further investment is needed in a two-way and mutually beneficial way to create university-community partnerships that build trust and attempt to address this challenge,” Douglas said. “It was also clear that this issue is incredibly complex and moving forward will require a coordinated effort from many partners.”
Alivisatos focused on the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts, noting newly hired administrators who will prioritize them. Waldo Johnson Jr. — former associate professor and former vice dean of curriculum at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice — joined the UChicago administration as vice provost in the winter and transitioned to a full-time position at the beginning of the spring term. MaryFrances McCourt will assume the role of chief financial officer on April 18; she championed equity, inclusion, and belonging in her last position as treasurer and vice president of finance at the University of Pennsylvania.
Joining the new trustees is Torsten Reimer, who will become the new University Librarian and Dean of the University Library on April 22 after last working at the British Library. “It’s really invigorating to see the range of scholarship they represent,” Lee said of the newly-appointed faculty.
Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories and Global Initiatives Juan de Pablo highlighted how his department values business and entrepreneurship and its efforts to develop start-ups, non-profit organizations and companies that “really put our findings into practice”. .”
De Pablo introduced a new partnership with the Clean Tech Economy Coalition, joining 18 other groups of government agencies, businesses and universities focused on developing clean energy technologies. Regarding the laboratories under his department, De Pablo announced that Fermilab will have its first female director: Lia Merminga, who will begin her term on April 18.
Internationally, De Pablo shared two workshops, one in Paris and the other in London, which will bring together national laboratories, innovation and corporate research and innovation. Entrepreneurs from North Africa and Europe, especially those focusing on quantum information science, data science, sustainability of material forces and artificial intelligence, will come together to “identify areas collaboration, create opportunities for students to do internships and attract start-ups”. businesses in Hyde Park,” De Pablo explained.
The interview concluded with a question-and-answer session in which panelists discussed the importance of the University’s global presence and study abroad, Alivisatos’ experience in engagement with the UChicago community, safety features such as increased safety cars with bright green lights and the updated masking policy.
“I just hope everyone listening feels that we are off to a wonderful start to the spring term, that this is a time when the University is reopening, as we just discussed,” Alivisatos said. “[It’s] very special because it comes together after two years and very special because there are so many new beginnings that speak of a wonderful future.