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07/24/2008 07:00:00

Four Elected to Caltech Board of Trustees

PASADENA, Calif.-Robert C. Bonner, senior partner of Sentinel HS Group LLC; John S. Chen (MS '79), chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Sybase Inc.; and Peter D. Kaufman, chairman and chief executive officer of Glenair Inc. have been elected to the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology. Gil I. Elbaz (BS '91) has also been elected to the board as a Young Alumni Trustee. The announcement was made by Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech.

A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland and Georgetown University Law School, Bonner has spent most of his career moving between government service and the private practice of law. From 1984 through 1989 he served as U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. He then served as U.S. district judge in the same region. He went on to serve as the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration from 1990 to 1993. Bonner returned to Los Angeles as a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, focusing on white-collar defense and complex civil cases.

A week after the attacks on 9/11, Bonner was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service. As commissioner, he played a key role in developing the strategy to secure the U.S. borders, including the Container Security Initiative and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

After the homeland security reorganization of 2003, Bonner served as the first commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security agency responsible for managing, controlling, and securing the United States' borders, while facilitating international trade and travel.

In 2006 Bonner returned to private practice as a partner in the Los Angeles and Washington, DC, offices of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. A member of the firm's White Collar Defense and Investigations and Public Policy Practice Groups and the firm's Crisis Management Team, Bonner's practice focused on internal investigations, high-stakes civil litigation, and defense of government enforcement actions. Recently, Bonner joined the Sentinel HS Group, a Washington-based homeland-security consulting firm, where as a senior partner he advises on homeland-security and international-trade issues.

After graduating from Brown University, magna cum laude, with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Chen earned his master's degree in electrical engineering from Caltech. He has an honorary professorship from Shanghai University, and honorary doctorates from San Jose State University in California, from the City University of Hong Kong, and from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Chen is actively involved in international relations. In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed him to serve on the President's Export Council. In 2006, he was appointed cochair of the Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee.

As chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Sybase since 1998, Chen has helped develop the firm into the largest publicly traded software company specializing in data management, enterprise mobility, and mobile messaging. In recognition of his outstanding entrepreneurship in building and leading Sybase, he was named 2007 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern California.

Chen serves on the boards of directors of the Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo and Co., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A longtime resident of Southern California, Kaufman received a bachelor's degree, cum laude, in accounting in 1976 and a master of business administration degree in 1977, both from the University of Southern California.

Kaufman recently edited and published Poor Charlie's Almanack, about his long-time friend and close associate Charlie Munger.

An active participant in community affairs, Kaufman is chair of the board of overseers of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. He is the chair of the board of directors of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. This year, he also joined the board of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kaufman is also chairman and chief executive officer of Glenair in Glendale, California. Glenair is a manufacturer of electrical and fiber-optic components and assemblies for aerospace. Kaufman first began work with the company more than 30 years ago, while he was in college. He filled many positions before becoming chairman and chief executive officer.

Named a Young Alumni Trustee, Elbaz is an accomplished entrepreneur and pioneer of natural-language technology, or converting human language into more formal representations that are easier for computer programs to manipulate. In 1991, he earned his bachelor's degree from Caltech, with a double major in engineering and applied science as well as economics.

After college, Elbaz worked in engineering roles at IBM, Sybase, and SGI. He cofounded Applied Semantics (ASI) in 1998 with fellow Caltech alumnus Adam Weissman (BS '90). ASI helped define and build new addressable markets with its AdSense and other contextual advertising products. The company was acquired by Google in 2003, at which point Elbaz became director of engineering for Google's Santa Monica office. His work helped establish Google's place as a leader in the field of online advertising. Elbaz left Google last year and started a new company called Structured Commons, based in West Los Angeles.

Active in a number of nonprofit areas, Elbaz is on the board of trustees for the X Prize Foundation and a member of the Los Angeles Social Ventures Partners. He and his wife, Elyssa, also manage the Elbaz Family Foundation, supporting environmental and educational causes.

Trustees serve five-year terms and, with the exception of Young Alumni Trustees, may serve consecutive terms. Young Alumni Trustees are under 45 years old at the time of election, and have earned one or more academic degrees at Caltech. The board is currently composed of 44 trustees, 14 senior trustees, and 21 life trustees, and is led by Chairman Kent Kresa and Vice Chairman Walter Weisman. 

Written by Jacqueline Scahill