Jack Szostak, Kimberly Kay Hoang, Sebastian Hurtado-Salazar

From left: Jack Szostak, Kimberly Kay Hoang, and Sebastian Hurtado-Salazar. (Photography by Rose Lincoln, courtesy Harvard University; UChicago News; UChicago News)

UChicago news highlights

A selection of the latest headlines from across campus.

Expanding Odyssey

In August the University announced a new $200 million commitment to educational access and financial aid for College students in honor of Chancellor Robert J. Zimmer. Members of the Board of Trustees have given $105 million to the Odyssey Scholarship Program, the University’s flagship financial aid initiative that helps ensure need-blind, loan-free education for students regardless of their economic circumstances. The trustees’ gift—the largest in support of financial aid in University history—also will serve as a challenge to raise a total of $200 million with the support of UChicago alumni, parents, and friends. This effort, which will establish the Robert J. Zimmer Odyssey Scholarship Fund, honors Zimmer’s commitment to expanding undergraduate financial aid during his 15-year presidency.

Legacy of support

UChicago has received the largest estate gift in its history from the late Arley D. Cathey, PhB’50. Cathey’s $50 million bequest, directed to the University when he died in 2020 at age 93, will support UChicago’s commitments to educational access and financial aid. In honor of the gift, the College is launching a $20 million match campaign, called the Arley D. Cathey Odyssey Challenge, to support the Odyssey Scholarship Program. Cathey’s legacy of philanthropy began in 2012 when he committed his estate—then valued at $17 million—to the College in honor of his physician father, Arley D. Cathey Sr.

New trustees named

Two new trustees began their five-year terms in May 2021: Antonio J. Gracias, JD’98, chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Valor Equity Partners, and Jason J. Tyler, LAB’89, MBA’99, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the financial services company Northern Trust. Gracias serves on the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering Council, while Tyler chairs the Laboratory Schools Board and is a member of the Becker Friedman Institute Council.

A forum for discussion

UChicago presidents past and present convened on September 22 to celebrate the David Rubenstein Forum, which opened in September 2020. The event featured four leaders from different eras of Maroon history—new president Paul Alivisatos, AB’81; Chancellor Robert J. Zimmer; Don Michael Randel, professor emeritus of music; and Hanna Holborn Gray, Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History—reflecting on their time in the president’s office. The conversation was moderated by University trustee David Rubenstein, JD’73, whose support made possible the construction of the 10-story building, located at Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street.

Nobelist to join faculty

Biochemist Jack Szostak will join the UChicago chemistry faculty as a University Professor on September 1, 2022. A geneticist who studies the biochemical origins of life, Szostak shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Currently a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University as well as in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Szostak is also the Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. University Professors are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields and their potential for impact across the University.

Scientific outreach

Experimental particle physicist Young-Kee Kim will serve as president of the American Physical Society beginning in 2024. She will be the ninth UChicago faculty member to lead the organization, which publishes scientific journals; conducts programs in education, public outreach, and media relations; and is active in public and governmental affairs. The Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor and chair of physics, Kim devotes much of her research to understanding the origin of mass for fundamental particles.

Proof positive

Assistant professor in mathematics Sebastian Hurtado-Salazar shared the 2022 New Horizons Mathematics Prize with Aaron Brown of Northwestern University for their contributions to the 2018 proof of Zimmer’s conjecture. First outlined by Chancellor Robert J. Zimmer in the 1980s, the conjecture concerns a fundamental concept in mathematics called symmetries. Hurtado-Salazar and Brown will share $100,000 as winners of the prize; Hurtado-Salazar plans to donate his share to organizations that provide math and science education in developing countries.

Pomp and circumstances

After a senior year upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Class of 2020 and their families got a long-awaited chance to celebrate their graduation and other accomplishments in person October 22 at a Rockefeller Memorial Chapel ceremony featuring remarks from John W. Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, dean of the College. A reception at the Museum of Science and Industry included gatherings for each residence hall and remarks by the resident deans.

O-Week, in person

At this year’s Aims of Education address, Kimberly Kay Hoang, associate professor of sociology, encouraged the members of the Class of 2025 to learn from one another. “Some of my most creative and innovative work has come from finding fun and joy in community with other people on the journey of discovery,” she said. The start-of-year address was one of several O-Week traditions that could take place in person after being suspended in 2020. This year’s O-Week also included special programming designed to reintroduce second-year students to in-person learning and residential life at UChicago.