Wendy Freedman is chair of the board of directors of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. She will continue her leadership role in that project after she becomes a University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Pictured here is an artist’s rendering of the GMT. (Courtesy of Giant Magellan Telescope Organization)

University news

An eminent astronomer joins the faculty as a University Professor, new economic direction for the Becker Friedman Institute, a visionary leader for the Grossman Institute, endowed human rights, funding for outreach and research to improve education and reduce crime, and more.

Eminent scientist

Wendy Freedman, a world-renowned astronomer who is chair of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization’s board of directors, has been named University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics. Freedman becomes the 20th University Professor and the seventh currently on the faculty. A designation for scholars considered among the most eminent in their fields, University Professors represent UChicago’s highest academic aspirations. Now focusing on current and past expansion rates of the universe and the nature of dark energy, Freedman led the Hubble Key Project, which resolved a long-standing debate, establishing the age of the universe as 13.7 billion years.

Artistic visionaries

Longtime University supporter Joan Harris and Logan Center architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams were among the National Medal of Arts recipients on July 28. Harris has extended the generosity of her late husband, Irving B. Harris, as a member of the Chicago Harris visiting committee, the Division of the Humanities visiting committee, and the University of Chicago Women’s Board. She holds leadership positions with the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Juilliard School, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board. Previously Harris was commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago and president of the Chicago Opera Theater and the Illinois Arts Alliance.

Economic direction

Economists Lars Peter Hansen and Kevin M. Murphy, PhD’86, have been appointed cochairs of the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. Hansen, a 2013 Nobel laureate and the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics, will serve as the institute’s director, leading its programming and operations. Murphy, a MacArthur fellow, 1997 winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, and Chicago Booth’s George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, will focus on public outreach and development. Hansen and Murphy succeed the Becker Friedman Institute’s first chair, Gary S. Becker, AM’53, PhD’55, who died in May.

Inaugural director

John Maunsell, editor in chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, has been appointed the inaugural director of the University’s Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology, and Human Behavior. The institute will combine collaborative research, education, and patient care to advance understanding of the brain and human behavior. Previously the Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III professor in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Maunsell has contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms of vision and perception.

Support for human rights

In recognition of a $7.5 million gift in support of human rights education from Richard Pozen, AB’69, and Ann Pozen, the University has named its program the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. Founded 17 years ago to incorporate human rights education into the College’s core curriculum, the program also funds student and faculty research. Mark Phillip Bradley, the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor in History and the College, will serve as the center’s faculty director.

Model competitors

UChicago’s Model UN team earned the title No. 1 in North America for winning all the competitions they entered. Outgoing president Eric Wessan, AB’14, led the team of 88 students, which included vice president Apratim Gautam, ’15, and Nisha Bala, ’15. Competitions involve simulations of traditional United Nations meetings as well as crisis situations with students often representing an individual country’s interests.

Museum Campus South

Seven Hyde Park–area cultural institutions have formed Museum Campus South, a partnership to encourage citywide cultural participation. UChicago participants include the Smart Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute Museum, the Logan Center for the Arts, and the Renaissance Society, in addition to the DuSable Museum of African American History, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Outreach and research

In July President Barack Obama announced $10 million in new funding for research and programming by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab. The funds support education and antiviolence programs for Chicago’s disadvantaged youth, including an expansion of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man initiative and academic help from Match Education. Part of the new funding is a $6 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for the labs to conduct randomized controlled trials into the long-term effects on participants in such programs.