Rendering of UChicago Center in Paris, Torsten Reimer, and Anthony Alvarez

Rendering of the planned University of Chicago Center in Paris; the new University librarian Torsten Reimer; and the first member of the College Class of 2026 Anthony Alvarez. (From left: rendering courtesy Studio Gang; UChicago News; photography by Eddie Quinones)

UChicago news highlights

A selection of the latest headlines from across campus.

Adapting to omicron

On December 23 University provost Ka Yee C. Lee and executive vice president Katie Callow-Wright announced new safety measures in response to the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant. The start of Winter Quarter was delayed until January 10 for most schools and divisions, and the University moved to a remote-only instructional format for the first two weeks of the quarter. In-person instruction resumed on January 24. In addition, the University announced a COVID-19 vaccine booster requirement for students, faculty, and staff.

Light and knowledge

A November 9 groundbreaking ceremony launched the expansion of the University’s Center in Paris, which will serve as a convening point for ambitious education, research, and collaboration across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The new facility, designed by Chicago architectural firm Studio Gang, will be nearly triple the size of the current center to accommodate increased demand to study, conduct research, and convene in Paris. Scheduled to open in January 2024, the new center will be located at 39–45 Rue des Grands Moulins in Paris Rive Gauche, a district near the French National Library that is considered a destination for research and higher education. The current center, which is located two blocks from the expansion project site, will close after the new building is completed.

Ex libris

Torsten Reimer, head of content and research services at the British Library, has been named University librarian and dean of the University of Chicago Library. At the British Library, Reimer ensures that contemporary collections and research services meet the needs of in-person and online international users of one of the world’s largest research libraries. Previously Reimer served as scholarly communications officer at Imperial College London, overseeing the development of open access and research data services. At UChicago Reimer will focus on developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic vision for the University Library and elevating its global prominence. His appointment begins March 15, 2022.

Past and future

On December 17 UChicago announced the launch of a council that will examine the relationship between the University and its surrounding neighborhoods and identify ways in which the University and community can strengthen future partnerships. The Council on UChicago/Community Relations: Historical, Contemporary, and Future will engage with the public to investigate the University’s relationship to the South Side of Chicago—from the University’s inception to the present day. The council, the first of its kind at the University, will consist of an equal number of University and South Side community members, including UChicago faculty, students, and staff.

New PhD for PME

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering is launching a PhD program in quantum science and engineering that will begin in Autumn 2022. PME has made graduate training a cornerstone of its educational offerings since the introduction of its molecular engineering doctoral program in 2013. The quantum science and engineering degree builds on that foundation, providing students with the skills needed to create, manipulate, and apply quantum phenomena toward developing radical new technologies.


Kenneth Polonsky will step down in September 2022 as dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for biology and medicine and president of the University of Chicago Health System. He will then become senior adviser to the president and remain a tenured member of the faculty. Polonsky, a prominent diabetes researcher, came to UChicago as dean and executive vice president for medical affairs in 2010 and oversaw enhancements to research in the Biological Sciences Division and major expansions at UChicago Medicine.

Bookish prize

The University of Chicago Press has awarded the 2021 Gordon J. Laing Award—its top honor—to associate professor of history Michael Rossi for The Republic of Color: Science, Perception, and the Making of Modern America (2019), which examines the origins of color science and its impact on the United States at the turn of the century. President Paul Alivisatos, AB’81, presented the award during a November 10 reception at the David Rubenstein Forum. The event also honored Eve L. Ewing, AB’08, assistant professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, who won the 2020 Laing Award for Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side (2018).

First in class

Anthony Alvarez, a senior at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep, became the first member of UChicago’s Class of 2026 on October 22. Alvarez, who will be the first person in his family to attend college, learned of his admission and full-ride scholarship during a surprise ceremony at his high school. An aspiring pediatrician, Alvarez has been a member of the Future Doctors of Lane club and the Medicina Academy Apprentice Program, which prepares high-achieving Latino students for medical careers. He applied early decision as part of UChicago’s MOVE UP (Moving Online, Virtually Empowered, Unlimited Potential) initiative, which offers virtual college application and admissions support as well as financial aid advising to Chicago Public Schools students.