Architectural rendering of the Rubenstein Forum at the University of Chicago

The David Rubenstein Forum, named in honor of University trustee David M. Rubenstein, JD’73, is scheduled to open in autumn 2020. (Illustration courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

UChicago news highlights

A selection of the latest headlines from across campus.


Art for the forum

A selection of works from the collection of UChicago trustee Kenneth C. Griffin will be on exhibit at the David Rubenstein Forum when the building officially opens this autumn. Items on loan from Griffin’s collection will inaugurate the Art at the Rubenstein program, which will include public exhibitions as well as scholarship and teaching opportunities focused on the artwork. The David Rubenstein Forum is named in honor of University trustee David M. Rubenstein, JD’73, and will include spaces for conferences, symposia, lectures, performances, celebrations, and other major gatherings.

Campaign conclusion

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact concluded on December 31, surpassing its original target of $4.5 billion and expanded $5 billion goal. The campaign also exceeded its goal to engage 125,000 alumni. The University of Chicago Campaign was the most ambitious in the institution’s history, and supported priorities in every division, school, department, and institute. It enabled investments in students and faculty; supported research, education, and impact; and fostered the University’s engagement with the city of Chicago and the world. For more, see On the Agenda, page 15, from President Robert J. Zimmer.

Provostial promotion

Ka Yee C. Lee, professor in the Department of Chemistry, became the University’s 14th provost on February 1. President Robert J. Zimmer announced her appointment in January. As vice provost for research since 2018, Lee oversaw University research administration, development support, safety, and computing, as well as scientific initiatives that cut across divisions, schools, and institutes. Lee has played a leading role in the University’s activities and partnerships in Hong Kong over the past five years, and chairs the Faculty Advisory Board for The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong. Lee’s research focus lies in the area of membrane biophysics, and she is the author or coauthor of more than 125 scholarly publications. She succeeds Daniel Diermeier, who was named provost in 2016 and becomes the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in July.

Micro master’s

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering has launched a master of science in molecular engineering program, designed to prepare engineers for leadership positions across industries. Complementing the school’s undergraduate and PhD programs in molecular engineering, the new program consists of 11 courses in two tracks: computational materials modeling, and polymer science and engineering. In the future the program may add tracks in areas such as sustainable energy and water resources, immunoengineering, and systems bioengineering.

Lifelong learning leader

On December 2 Stuart Flack became dean of the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, the center of lifelong learning at UChicago. With 30 years of experience in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors, Flack was previously the executive director of the Chicago Humanities Festival and CEO of BestMatch, a higher education technology start-up. He is also a jazz guitarist and playwright whose work has been performed by leading theaters nationwide. At UChicago Flack will oversee the Graham School’s certificate and degree programs and other courses, which serve more than 4,500 students annually.

Energy boost

The Department of Energy has selected two University of Chicago researchers as part of its new Office of Science Distinguished Scientist Fellowship program. Ian Foster, Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science and director of Argonne National Laboratory’s Data Science and Learning Division, and Joshua Frieman, PhD’89, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and head of the Particle Physics Division at Fermilab, are among the five scientists selected this year. Foster, a computer scientist who has influenced the field of data science, and Frieman, a physicist who led the Dark Energy Survey for nearly a decade, will each receive $1 million over three years to deepen collaboration between academic institutions and national laboratories.

Ex libris

UChicago is helping thousands of children kick-start their home libraries by partnering with schools, nonprofit organizations, and Scholastic Book Fairs to provide half a million free books. Through the UChicago My Very Own Library program, participating pre-K through eighth-grade students across the United States and in the Dominican Republic will select 10 books each year at their schools’ Scholastic Book Fairs. The program also provides support for schools to host family literacy events and visits from authors and illustrators. As part of UChicago My Very Own Library, researchers at the School of Social Service Administration are studying the program’s impact on educational outcomes, and the Office of Civic Engagement’s Neighborhood Schools Program is connecting undergraduates with volunteer literacy support roles at participating local schools.

Fun food fighting

At this year’s Latke-Hamantash Debate, held November 25, presenters took an ecological approach to the question that has been pondered without resolution since 1946, asking which treat is better for the future of our planet. Marc Berman, associate professor of psychology, arguing for the hamantash, pointed out that the fried latke represents a dangerous celebration of oil. Meanwhile latke partisan Raymond Lodato, AM’97, PhD’97, assistant instructional professor in the Program on the Global Environment, highlighted the potato’s ability to thrive in many climates, calling it the “Mister Rogers of foodstuffs” for its ability to “get along with everyone.”