Caltech Awards Highest Honor to Lifetime Board Member Ben Rosen

The Caltech Board of Trustees has presented the Institute's highest honor, the Robert A. Millikan Medal, to Board of Trustees Life Member Ben Rosen (BS '54).

Published : Tuesday, October 30, 2018 | 8:08 AM

Ben Rosen

The Caltech Board of Trustees has presented the Institute’s highest honor, the Robert A. Millikan Medal, to Board of Trustees Life Member Ben Rosen (BS ’54). Rosen is the chairman emeritus of the board for Compaq Computer Corporation.

Named in honor of Robert Andrews Millikan—celebrated Nobel Prize-winning physicist and co-founder of the modern California Institute of Technology—the Millikan Medal acknowledges individuals who embody Millikan’s spirit of service to the Institute and extraordinary personal merit. Arguably the most famous scientist of his day, Millikan also served as chairman of Caltech’s Executive Council for 23 years.

In accordance with Millikan’s high standard of excellence, only a select few have been awarded the Millikan Medal in the last 30 years. Rosen joins the company of Simon “Si” Ramo (PhD ’36), Gordon Moore (PhD ’54), and Arnold Beckman (PhD ’28), as well as 2014 and 2016 awardees Robert A. Day and Donald Bren.

In their resolution conferring the medal upon Rosen, the Board recognized Rosen’s “longstanding commitment to Caltech; his leadership of this institution; his advancement of the Institute’s mission through service, leadership, and philanthropy, and his steadfast goal of advancing science and technology for society’s benefit.”

Further, the Board lauded Rosen’s support of “emerging fields and innovative ideas through his extraordinarily generous philanthropic gifts to the California Institute of Technology, which have indelibly enriched education and research at the Institute.”

As co-founder and general partner (1981-1995) of Sevin Rosen Funds, Rosen spent decades investing in startup companies at the cutting edge of innovative technology. The more than 100 companies that received backing from the Rosen Funds include Electronic Arts, Lotus Development Corporation, Silicon Graphics, Compaq Computer Corporation; he also served as chairman of Compaq for 18 years. Previously, he was an electronics engineer at Raytheon and Sperry Gyroscope and later became a vice president and senior electronics analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Rosen joined the Caltech Board of Trustees in 1986 and served as its chairman from 2001 to 2005. He is an emeritus member of the overseeing boards of the New York Philharmonic and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Formerly, he served as managing director of the Metropolitan Opera and chairman of the board of overseers for the Columbia Business School. Together with his wife, Donna, Rosen founded the annual not-for-profit KentPresents ideas festival in Kent, Connecticut.

At the award ceremony, which was held on Friday October 26, 2018 at the Caltech Board of Trustees annual retreat, Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum noted that “It has been Caltech’s luck to be in Ben’s orbit. He has elevated Caltech as a Distinguished Alumnus [and] has helped mold Caltech as a member of the Board of Trustees, as the board chair, as a life trustee, as honorary co-chair of the Break Through campaign, and as a thoughtful and generous philanthropist.”

In 2008, Rosen made one of his most lasting contributions to the Institute by contributing millions of dollars towards the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center. “Just as we had the digital revolution in the last century,” Rosen explained at the time, “we are having a biological sciences revolution in this century. And Caltech is the place to be.”

The Rosen Center involves 50 faculty members and is directed by Frances Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, who received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Rosen received his BS from Caltech in 1954, his MS from Stanford in 1955, and his MBA from Columbia University in 1961. He was awarded the Caltech Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and currently serves as a member of the Campaign Executive Committee and on the Board of Directors as a consulting participant and Board chair emeritus.

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