Adrienne Brown

Associate professor Adrienne Brown is the new director of UChicago’s Arts + Public Life initiative. (UChicago News)

UChicago news highlights

A selection of the latest headlines from across campus.

New trustees named

The University of Chicago Board of Trustees has elected four new members. Katherine L. Adams, JD’90, is Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president of legal and global security. She has served on the Law School Council at UChicago since 2014. Barry E. Fields, JD’91, is a trial lawyer and partner at Kirkland & Ellis. A University of Chicago Medical Center trustee, he also serves on the Law School Council and the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine Council. Valerie B. Jarrett, who is the CEO of the Barack Obama Foundation, was the longest-serving senior adviser to the Obama administration. A former University trustee, Jarrett was the Board of Trustees vice chair from 2006 to 2009, and was a previous Medical Center trustee, Harris School Council member, and Social Sciences Division Council member. Richard F. Wallman, MBA’74, retired in 2003 as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Honeywell International. In honor of his philanthropic commitment to business education, Chicago Booth designates its graduating MBA students who earn high honors as Amy and Richard F. Wallman Scholars.

Fighting health disparities

Monica E. Peek, SM’15, the Ellen H. Block Professor for Health Justice in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. An internist and researcher at UChicago Medicine, Peek was selected for her international leadership in reducing health disparities. Her work illuminates how structural racism and social determinants of health perpetuate inequities in Black communities. She was one of 100 people elected to the organization’s 2022 class, recognized for demonstrating outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service—one of the highest honors in the health and medical field.

Chicago Fed head

Austan Goolsbee, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, became the 10th president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on January 9. He previously served in Washington as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Goolsbee will contribute to monetary policy making as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee while leading the Chicago Fed, which supports the formulation of monetary policy, supervises and regulates banking organizations, and provides financial services to banks and similar institutions, as well as to the US government.

Arts leader

Adrienne Brown, associate professor in the Departments of English and Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity and in the College, has been appointed director of UChicago’s Arts + Public Life initiative. APL provides residencies for Black and Brown artists and creative entrepreneurs, arts education for youth, and artist-led programming and exhibitions. Brown’s scholarship focuses on American and African American cultural production in the 20th century, emphasizing the history of perception as shaped by the built environment. She had served as APL’s interim director since 2021, during which time APL opened the L1 Creative Business Accelerator and Retail Store.

Divinity School dean

James T. Robinson was appointed dean of the UChicago Divinity School and started his term in December. Robinson, the Caroline E. Haskell Professor of the History of Judaism, Islamic Studies, and the History of Religions in the Divinity School and the College, conducts research on medieval Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, and biblical exegesis in the Islamic world and Christian Europe. During his tenure as interim dean of the Divinity School since July 2021, the school hired two new faculty scholars, expanded its Teaching Fellows program for recent PhD graduates, and piloted the school’s new undergraduate Core sequence.

IOP’S new director

Former US senator Heidi Heitkamp, whose decades of service have been characterized by efforts to bridge political divides, became the new director of UChicago’s Institute of Politics. As a Pritzker Fellow at the IOP and a member of its senior advisory board, she has led discussions on the future of government institutions and the threat of hyperpolarization in American politics. The first woman elected to the US Senate in North Dakota’s history, Heitkamp served from 2013 to 2019, during which time she advocated for affordable housing and sponsored initiatives aimed at addressing the health and safety of Native American tribal communities and indigenous peoples. Heitkamp succeeded inaugural director David Axelrod, AB’76, on January 3.

Honorable matter

Condensed matter physicist Sidney Nagel, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor of Physics, has been awarded the 2023 American Physical Society Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research. The society’s greatest honor, the medal recognizes contributions of the highest level that advance knowledge and understanding of the physical universe. Nagel’s research has led to insights about the nature of disorder. His work includes the study of macroscopic phenomena, like the movements of sand and the stains liquids leave behind when they evaporate, such as rings from a coffee mug. He also helped introduce the importance of “jamming,” the phenomenon that turns loose grains into a rigid solid when squeezed together.