An ancient Egyptian coffin

Among the artifacts from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute that professor Willard Libby tested during the radiocarbon dating development process was this wood from an ancient Egyptian coffin. The artifact, more than 2,000 years old, dates to the Egyptian Ptolemaic period. OI founder James Henry Breasted purchased the artifact, and many others, during his honeymoon trip to Egypt in 1894–95. (Photography by Jean Lachat)

University news

A selection of the latest headlines from UChicago.

Leadership changes

Early music scholar Anne Walters Robertson, the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Music, will lead the Division of the Humanities as interim dean. Robertson, who has served as UChicago’s deputy provost for research and education and as president of the American Musicological Society, began her appointment July 1. She succeeds Martha Roth, the Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology, dean from 2007 to 2016.

Douglas J. Skinner, the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Accounting and deputy dean for faculty, was named interim dean of Chicago Booth, effective August 15. Skinner is a leading expert on corporate disclosure practices, corporate financial reporting, and corporate finance. As deputy dean he oversees several Booth centers, initiatives, and faculty groups. He succeeds Sunil Kumar, who served from 2011 to 2016 and is now provost of Johns Hopkins University.

2020 vision

On September 18, president Robert J. Zimmer and dean of the college John W. Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, welcomed the 1,591 members of the Class of 2020 and their families to the College. The new students represent 47 states and 38 countries worldwide. During opening convocation at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Boyer assured the new arrivals they would flourish at UChicago and left them with words of advice from Heraclitus: “Your character already defines your destiny.”

Expanded care

UChicago Medicine broke ground September 15 on a new and larger emergency department that will offer level I adult trauma care. At more than 29,000 square feet, the facility will be 76 percent larger than the current emergency room, with new trauma resuscitation bays and rapid assessment units and an increased number of treatment stations. The emergency department is expected to open in 2018 and treat an additional 25,000 patients a year by 2021. The trauma center is projected to open several months later and to serve some 2,000 patients in its first year.

Swimming lessons

Naomy Grand’Pierre, Class of 2019, became the first female swimmer to compete for Haiti at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Grand’Pierre, a dual citizen of the United States and Haiti, placed second in her heat, finishing the 50-meter freestyle in 27.46 seconds. The College second-year hopes to promote the sport in Haiti, where just 1 percent of the population knows how to swim.

Bring it on home

In July the Barack Obama Foundation selected Jackson Park as the future site of the Obama Presidential Center. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, architects of the University’s Logan Center for the Arts, will design the new facility, where programming is expected to begin in 2017. The University led the effort to bring the nonpartisan presidential library and museum to the South Side of Chicago.

New school

Construction began on a new home for UChicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus on September 14. The high school, located on 63rd Street, is expected to open in late 2017 and will feature technology-equipped classrooms, engineering and science labs, a media arts space, an athletic field, and a college resource center. The Woodlawn Campus currently serves 650 South Side students in grades six through 12. For the past five years, all of the school’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college.

Biology by the numbers

A $10 million gift from Sanford Grossman, AB’73, AM’74, PhD’75, established the Center for the Study of Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior. The center, founded in August, will leverage the power of genomics and neuroscience to contribute to understanding about fundamental questions of complex individual and social human behavior. A key feature of the interdisciplinary center will be the interaction of leaders in quantitative biology and neuroscience with researchers in the social sciences, humanities, Chicago Booth, and the Law School.

Lifelong learning

On September 21, the University launched AlumniU, a website that offers free online courses for alumni led by UChicago faculty members. Current offerings include Plato’s Meno: On the Possibility of Learning How to Be Good, taught by Agnes Callard, AB’97, assistant professor in philosophy; and Connecting the Curious: Love, Belonging, and Other Surprising Concerns of Science Fiction with Hilary Strang, PhD’09, deputy director of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. The site also provides tools for alumni to connect and collaborate. To get started, alumni can log in with their CNetIDs at

Landmark achievement

The American Chemical Society named the discovery of radiocarbon dating as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. In Kent Chemical Laboratory in the 1940s, Willard Libby and his colleagues developed the innovative method to measure the age of organic materials. Scientists have used the technique on materials from the meteorite that created northern Australia’s Henbury Craters to the Shroud of Turin.