Solveig Øvstebø. (University of Chicago News Office)
University news
A gift revs UChicago’s entrepreneurial engine, the Renaissance Society names its first new director in 40 years, and a new dorm will rise after Pierce meets its demise.

Venture capital

An $8 million gift from Michael Polsky, MBA’87, will expand the mission of the Chicago Booth entrepreneurship center he established with a $7 million donation a decade ago.  His latest gift makes the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation the University’s venture creation engine, extending beyond Chicago Booth to create multidisciplinary programs and to collaborate with existing campus innovation initiatives. Faculty director Steven Kaplan and executive director Ellen Rudnick, who have been in those roles since the founding, will continue to lead the center.

Bell toils against diabetes

In February Graeme Bell, the Louis Block distinguished service professor of medicine and human genetics, will receive the $150,000 Manpei Suzuki International Prize for research on the role of genetics in diabetes diagnosis and treatment. With colleague Nancy Cox, professor of medicine and human genetics, Bell discovered gene mutations that cause a form of the disease called maturity-onset diabetes of the young. Bell is the second UChicago scientist honored in the award’s five-year history. Donald F. Steiner, the A. N. Pritzker distinguished service professor emeritus of medicine and biochemistry and molecular biology, received the 2009 prize.

Naming rites

On November 29, the Burton Room in Burton Judson Courts was renamed the Bertram Cohler Club Room in honor of longtime UChicago social sciences professor Cohler, U-High’57, AB’61, who died last May. At the ceremony, BJ resident master Joshua Scodel said he imagined Cohler “smiling today at being linked to this place where our students discover and create the richness of life Bert so cherished.” In January, the College will rededicate the Judson room for humanities professor Herman Sinaiko, AB’47, PhD’61, who died in 2011.

Financial adviser

Anil Kashyap, Chicago Booth’s Edward Eagle Brown professor of economics and finance, has been appointed to the US Department of Treasury’s Financial Research Advisory Committee. An expert on banking and monetary policy, Kashyap also studies business cycles, corporate finance, and price setting. A Chicago Booth faculty member since 1991, Kashyap is one of 30 members of the advisory committee, which was established as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

That Urdu that you do so well

The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme has awarded the University a £52,247 grant to preserve and digitize 60 rare and endangered Urdu-language periodicals published between the 1870s and the 1940s. C. M. Naim, professor emeritus in the department of South Asian languages and civilizations, will be part of a panel selecting the magazines and journals to be preserved. Digital images of the publications will be made at the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre in Karachi, Pakistan, and made available through the University of Chicago Library and the British Library.

(Renaissance) Society news

Solveig Øvstebø becomes the Renaissance Society’s first new executive director in 40 years when she succeeds Susanne Ghez in June. Since 2003, Øvstebø  has been director of Bergen Kunsthall, an avant-garde contemporary art space in her native Norway. “Solveig has a strong artistic vision along with experience in building an institution,” said Ghez, who is retiring from the position she has held since 1974.

A replacement for Pierce

A new 55th Street residence hall and dining commons on the site of Pierce Hall and the North Field recreation area will  open in 2016. Pierce will close in June and North Field will be replaced with a new space on 61st Street. Maintenance problems at Pierce, including exploding toilets, exposed heating pipes, and elevator outages, made national news last year, increasing calls for a new facility.

The best and the Fulbrightest

Ten of this year’s 84 Fulbright-Hays grants went to UChicago students, providing a total of $448,899 in funding for their dissertation research abroad. This represents the 19th time in 20 years that the University has led the nation in both the number of grants and funds awarded. The US Department of Education grants support  research in understudied areas of the world—such as anthropology student Natalja Czarnecki’s dissertation about the relationship between the people in the Republic of Georgia and their food supply, and history student Patrick Kelly’s dissertation on the rise of South American human-rights activism in response to 1970s violence.

Smart decision

On October 30 Pamela Hoehn-Saric, MST’81, began a three-year term as chair of the Smart Museum of Arts Board of Governors. A board member since 2009, Hoehn-Saric succeeds her father, Robert Feitler, U-High’45, X’50. She also serves on the executive committee and as chair of the academic affairs committee of the Kenyon College board of trustees, and on the board of the Kenyon Review.

Programmed to succeed

In November the Whiteboard Erasers became the University’s first computer programming team to win the Mid-Central USA regional competition, advancing to the summer 2013 world finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. Naren Hazareesingh, third-year in computer science; Bill Waldrep, fourth-year in computer science; and Kevin Wang, third-year in physics, make up the Whiteboard Erasers.  UChicago’s Conjurers of Cheap Tricks finished second out of 150 teams. This is the fifth consecutive year and seventh time overall that a UChicago team has qualified for the world finals.   Updated 03.07.2013