Berkeley universities

President of the U. of C. Alivisatos inaugurated, encourages “a more committed institution” | Local News


University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos was inaugurated as the school’s 14th principal on Friday, citing the university’s long and complicated relationships with surrounding communities on the South Side as he described his broader vision of his mission under his leadership.

Alivisatos said the U. of C. must engage fully with the world around him; he said that means he should “improve the bonds within our university community, here and abroad, to make the university an environment where everyone feels welcome and included, and where they truly belong. “.

“It means standing up to our neighbors as an anchoring institution on the south side and being a leader in global engagement,” he said.

“As we deepen our engagement with our neighbors, we need to examine, recognize and reflect on our past actions in development and housing on the south side. These are essential steps to be better listeners and partners with our neighbors who bring enormous creativity and resilience to the vision of a vibrant and prosperous community. “

Efforts will continue to be made to diversify the student body and faculty. Affordability and accessibility commitments will continue for the student body. Entrepreneurship and innovation efforts will continue, as will cooperation with other universities and broader civic ecosystems. On academic fronts, he said the creation of knowledge for itself will be celebrated. He said that means working with private, public and philanthropic organizations to create that knowledge, work in areas where needs are critical, and share knowledge widely.

“As we cautiously exit the pandemic and begin to consider its consequences, we also face political division, growing inequalities, bewildering changes in the global political order and economy, and a challenge unprecedented in human history: global climate change, “he said.

But Alivisatos also noted that COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in record time and that pioneering developments in immunoengineering are underway at U. Dec.

“When we can combine the power of the arts, politics, medicine and data science to co-create new opportunities with and for those who live in an urban environment like ours in Chicago and others in the world ; when the prospects of understanding the workings of the human brain and combating the diseases that may afflict it seem at hand; when machine learning and quantum information science emerge and are about to usher in a new era of discovery that will greatly expand the benefits of today’s information technology; when poems, writings and visual arts, music, drama, new media and more produced by artists in our community reach our city, country and the world to inform and challenge all who are ready to receive their messages –

“These challenges and a number of opportunities push us; in fact, they require that we engage with our world and impact our world in new ways,” said Alivisatos. “To do this, we need to take the next step in what I will call ‘our journey of reconnecting’ with our campus, our community, our city and the world at large.”

A former student himself, the second such graduate to take over the university presidency, Alivisatos said the last two months of re-immersion had been a joy. He recalled the foundations of the university – rigorous research and analysis, education in power, innovations and discoveries, freedom of expression and open discourse, and diversity of origins, ideologies and perspectives – and that the university “does not is not known for accepting easy answers, for taking the easy way out or for being complacent. “

Therefore, the U. of C. must be ready to meet the challenges of the times in new and meaningful ways. He recalled the legacy of his predecessor William Rainey Harper, the first president of the university, who had, according to Alivisatos, a vision “that the work of the university proper should be directly and actively linked to the improvement of society as a whole “. The university withdrew from that vision in the 20th century, looking inward, he said, but highlighted its reconnection with the city that surrounded it in recent decades.

“We now have the opportunity to build on the 13 decades of the incredible work of this university in the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of human life by re-conceptualizing the ways in which we can become a more engaged institution – not separate from it. society, but deliberately interconnected with it, ”he said.

Chancellor Carol T. Crist, who was the patron saint of Alivisatos in her previous role as president and vice-chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, also spoke, praising her vision for transformational partnerships, especially with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, of which he was the director. She called her service at the flagship public university “transformational.”

READ. of C. has invested heavily in hard sciences in recent years, including the creation of a brand new school, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, as well as the Chicago Quantum Exchange startup accelerator. Crist praised Alivisatos for the public-private-philanthropic partnerships at Berkeley in research and entrepreneurship.

“To successfully develop a project like this requires an unusual combination of capabilities – not just vision, but the collaboration essential for a common vision, entrepreneurial spirit and meticulous attention to implementation and details,” she declared. “Paul, as a provost, was not only concerned with big ideas and strategies. He always had time for the countless little issues that crop up on the transom every day. “

Representatives of faculty, students, staff, alumni and the neighboring community spoke, including Dr. Eve L. Ewing, a college alumnus who is now an Assistant Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, and Rev. Julian DeShazier, senior pastor of the University Church of Chicago, 5655 S. University Ave.

Ewing, who wrote about the surge of public schools in the city over the past decade as well as the 1919 Chicago race riots, spoke of “indebtedness” in terms of moral and ethical debts, noting the once-native land on which the university is located. The wealth of the benefactor of the former University of Chicago, Stephen A. Douglas, was derived from the slavery of Georgiana Simpson, the first black woman to obtain a doctorate in the United States in 1921 who could live in the dormitory, in the Japanese-American students who were denied university admission during World War II.

She said 4,000 families in Hyde Park have been displaced by the urban renewal “in order to protect the interests of the university.” And she said students are now asking that the university, charged with doing “extremely hard work … ask in return that we protect them, that we build a culture of care to ensure that this work is healthy and sustainable,” a request that we have often failed. to fulfill. “

If the university was worthy of Alivisatos’ time, Ewing said, it was only because of the sacrifices of the aforementioned peoples. Ewing said she was encouraged by the work of students, faculty, staff and community members to demand that U. of C. “to be a worthy institution, but also, in accordance with our way of doing things, to uncover the evidence and the stories of those to whom we are indebted.”

DeShazier, a graduate of the University of California’s Divinity School, said his ten-year relationship with the campus as a pastor has been equally “instructive, disturbing, hopeful, strange, heartwarming and heartbreaking,” remembering the last moments with the patients at Mitchell Hospital, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., speaks with student organizers, defusing tensions with families outside the trauma center and sitting “with the young men who come to have a confusing and painful interaction with the university police “.

All of these people expect the University of California to give them a better life, he said, saying that expectation is easier to meet for students and workers than for “the community.”

“But that’s a fair expectation,” DeShazier said. “And if I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to look at everything that is being done by the university right now, and if all of this is done in the community, consider doing it with the community.”

“A relationship only emerges when those involved see each other as equals, which means that not only will the university change and improve the lives of Woodlawn and the South Shore, etc., but the university must be ready to be.” transformed by the south side. Because on every block there is deep wisdom and people who will lead and serve and have to do it – and people by whom you have to be led, for they too have greatness to offer. “

The ceremony took place at a less than full Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., due to COVID-19 restrictions (there were surveillance nights around campus) where the organ and bagpipes played preludes and postludes.

The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Carillon rang the 72 bells in a piece titled “Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur ”, so named after the motto of the university (“ May knowledge grow more and more; and so be human life enriched ”), and two violinists performed“ Mansueto Tribute, Double Helix ”, commissioned originally for the library dedication at 1100 E. 57th St. Srikanth Reddy of the school’s English department read an excerpt from his poetry book “Underworld Lit”. A choir sang the school’s alma mater.


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