Nancy Grace Roman, PhD'49

“Mother of Hubble,” Nancy Grace Roman, PhD’49, at the Goddard Space Flight Center circa 1972. (Photo courtesy NASA)


A selection of UChicago alumni whose names are in the news.

Mother of Hubble’s eye in the sky

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope has been named for the space agency’s first chief astronomer, Nancy Grace Roman, PhD’49 (1925–2018). Roman, shown circa 1972 at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where the new telescope is in development, earned the name “Mother of Hubble” for her leadership and vision overseeing plans for the world’s first large space-based optical telescope, launched 30 years ago. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will follow its predecessor into the cosmos in the mid-2020s to search for exoplanets and investigate astronomical mysteries like dark matter and dark energy.

Maroon through and through

Rosalie Resch, AB’73, became UChicago’s interim director of athletics and recreation on July 1, replacing Erin McDermott, who left for a post as Harvard’s athletics director. The longest serving member of the University’s athletics staff, Resch got her start as a triple varsity student-athlete, competing for the Maroons in volleyball, softball, and badminton. She went on to head the women’s volleyball team for two decades, becoming the winningest head coach in the program’s history. She has also served in multiple administrative roles, most recently as senior associate athletic director for finance and internal operations.

Head coach

In July Craig M. Robinson, MBA’91, was selected to lead the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Robinson becomes the fifth executive director in the men’s college basketball organization’s 93-year history. Previously a head coach at Brown University and Oregon State University, he joins the NABC after serving as the New York Knicks’ vice president of player development and minor league operations.

Author with an angle

John Gubbins, AM’73, won a 2020 Independent Publisher Book Award for The American Fly Fishing Experience: Theodore Gordon, His Lost Flies and Last Sentiments (independently published, 2019). Gubbins’s biography of Gordon (1854–1914), who pioneered American dry fly-fishing in the Catskills, received the bronze medal for best regional nonfiction in the US Northeast category. The book was also a finalist for a Next Generation Indie Book Award. Gubbins’s research included fishing like Gordon in New York and Michigan, his own home state.

Making an imprint

Lisa Lucas, AB’01, is set to become the new publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books in early 2021. The New York Times described her appointment as part of a wave of recent hires in publishing that “stand to fundamentally change the industry” by diversifying its leadership ranks. At the National Book Foundation, where she’ll remain as executive director through the National Book Award season this fall, she is credited with raising that organization’s profile in part by championing writers of color. As head of the Pantheon and Schocken imprints, Lucas hopes to help the publishing industry make strides in the same direction.

Colleagues in innovation

Christina Hachikian, AB’02, MBA’07, formerly the founding executive director of Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, has transitioned to a full-time clinical faculty role at Booth. Hachikian helped launch the Rustandy Center in 2012 as a hub for social impact research and social entrepreneurship. The center’s new executive director, Caroline Grossman, MBA’03, was formerly its senior director of programs and global initiatives. In her new role, Grossman will expand on her work supporting faculty research on urgent topics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue helping students channel their business tool kit toward the social good.

Graduation gift

UChicago trustee Frank Baker, AB’94, and his wife, Laura Day Baker, made headlines when they announced in May that they would pay the tuition balances of some 50 graduating seniors at Spelman College. Working with the president of the historically Black all-women’s college, the Bakers identified a group of students who needed financial assistance to finish their degrees. “The people who my heart really goes out to are women in their senior year who can’t afford it anymore and have to drop out,” Frank Baker said, noting the students’ resiliency. “These are the women we need in the workforce. They are going to make a difference.” The Bakers have pledged $1 million to continue their support for Spelman seniors.