• Credit: Bob Paz
  • David Lee, with outgoing chair Kent Kresa at right
    Credit: Bob Paz
11/16/2012 08:31:02

David Lee Named Chair of Caltech Board of Trustees

David L. Lee (PhD '74) has been named the new chair of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). A Caltech trustee since 2000, Lee began his term as chair October 27, 2012. The Board, which is Caltech's governing body, currently includes 44 trustees, 13 senior trustees, 25 life members, and one honorary life member; its vice chair is Ronald K. Linde. As chair, Lee will foster communication with Caltech faculty, administration, and students and represent the Board with the Caltech community and the public. He will preside at board meetings and offer advice and support to the president of Caltech. Lee succeeds Kent Kresa, who has served as chair since 2005.  

"I have great confidence that David Lee will serve Caltech well," says Kresa. "He shares my deep appreciation for Caltech and its ability to stimulate innovation and develop leadership in emerging areas."

For his part, Lee says that he is excited to take on this leadership role. "As an alumnus and a trustee, I have had increasing opportunities to see how fundamental science and engineering at Caltech drive research and development and lay the foundation for major, unexpected advances. Caltech attracts and supports intensely creative people who make a difference in the world and in our understanding of the world. I'm thrilled to support that effort."

"David Lee understands Caltech's commitment to address 'impossible' questions in our world, to pursue knowledge and discoveries that others may consider too risky," says president Jean-Lou Chameau. "He is taking on this role at a vital time. Caltech is leading the way, thanks to outstanding guidance from Kent Kresa and our prior chairs. David is an excellent choice, and I look forward to partnering with him to help Caltech continue to invent the future of science and engineering and cultivate tomorrow's leaders."

Lee is cofounder and managing general partner of Clarity Partners, a private-equity investment firm based in Los Angeles that focuses its investments on telecommunications and media and their underlying technologies. Lee started his professional career in 1975 with Arthur Andersen & Co. in Los Angeles and went on to executive positions at satellite-communications pioneer Comsat and at TRW, where he helped expand the company's information-systems business from two to nine divisions in four years. In 1989, he joined Pacific Capital Group and helped the firm expand into the telecommunications industry. Lee cofounded the telecommunications firm Global Crossing in 1997 and served as president and chief operating officer until 2000, when he left to cofound Clarity Partners.

Lee and his wife, Ellen, have supported Caltech for decades. Their many gifts include the endowed David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral Fellowship, which supports outstanding theoretical physicists; a contribution that provides vital support for the life sciences; and the David and Ellen Lee Center for Advanced Networking. Research the Lee Center seed-funded built momentum for two major Caltech initiatives: the Information Science and Technology program and the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter.

As a Caltech trustee, Lee chaired the Business and Finance Committee for eight years and was elected vice chair of the board in 2008. In addition, he served on the leadership committee for Caltech's last capital campaign and on the trustee president selection committee that brought President Chameau to the Institute. He is currently a member of the Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy chair's council. He and Ellen joined the President's Circle of the Caltech Associates more than a decade ago, and he is a lifetime member of the Caltech Alumni Association.

Additionally, Lee is chairman of the board of overseers of the USC Keck School of Medicine and is a board member of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Lee received a bachelor's degree from McGill University in 1970 before coming to Caltech to study under Kip Thorne (BS '62). He earned his PhD in physics, with a minor in economics, from Caltech in 1974. In spring of 2000, Caltech recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award for his achievements in the telecommunications and finance industries.

The Lees live in San Marino, California, and they have three grown children: Benjamin, Bonnie, and Rachel.

Written by Ann Motrunich