In his third annual Town Hall address to the Caltech community, President Jean-Lou Chameau looked back at the last academic yearâ€”from its game-changing research to its streak-ending basketball gamesâ€”and considered the year to come.
“Today, I’m pleased to say that I believe the Caltech community is doing quite well,” Chameau reported. “Notice that I said the ‘Caltech community’ and not simply ‘Caltech.’ Because of the size and close-knit nature of Caltech, it’s more than an organization; it really is a community, even more so than other colleges.”
Chameau started by pointing to some of the year’s most significant events: the Caltech men’s basketball team snapping its 310-game conference losing streak; January’s State of the Union address, in which President Obama called out Caltech’s solar-energy research, marking the first time a university was specifically mentioned in such a speech; Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail playing a key role in his native Egypt’s historic transition.
“Dr. Zewail,” Chameau said, “is one of the great examples of the citizen-scientist.”
The last year also saw what Chameau called “the tremendous success” of TEDxCaltech and, most recently, the launch of Caltech’s “impressive new site” on iTunes U.
Chameau then highlighted just a few of the research findings that have excited both scientists and the public alike over the past months, and looked forward to the planned November 2011 launch of JPL’s Mars rover Curiosity. He talked about the Institute’s sustainability efforts, specifically the installation of 20 “Bloom Boxes”â€”fuel cells that convert air and biogas into electricity using an electrochemical process that produces minimal carbon emissionsâ€”around campus, and the ongoing construction on the Linde + Robinson Laboratory. Linde + Robinson, he said, “will not only bring together a world-class team to study climate change, but is also expected to be the nation’s most energy-efficient science laboratory.”
Financially, Chameau said, the Institute has achieved its goal of balancing the budget in 2010, and is on target to continue that trend in 2011. “Looking at 2012,” he said, “my expectations are that our financial position will remain on track.”
As Chameau approaches his five-year anniversary as Caltech’s president, he said he’s looking forward to the next five.
“We continue to live in changing and stressful economic times, and there will be more tests that the nation and we as a community have to face,” Chameau remarked. “For our part, I want to keep working with you to make Caltech the best it can be. We are all in this togetherâ€”faculty, staff, and students. And we will continue to work to make Caltech’s future even brighter.”