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  • Credit: Bill Youngblood
06/28/2013 14:55:51

Otis Booth Leadership Chair Established at Caltech

$10 Million Will Accelerate Innovation

With a $10 million gift, the Los Angeles–based Otis Booth Foundation has created and endowed the Otis Booth Leadership Chair for the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) at Caltech. This endowment will provide a permanent source of funds to foster novel research ventures and educational programs.

The $10 million endowment will accelerate the invention of technologies with the potential to benefit society by giving the EAS division chair flexible funds to invest in promising ideas that arise within the division. Caltech has had the highest subject-specific rankings for engineering and technology in the world for three years running (according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings).

"The first funds from the endowment will support time-sensitive research that is too high risk for most traditional grants," says Ares Rosakis, the inaugural holder of the Booth Leadership Chair, Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He also plans to use the endowment to support teaching innovations—including future online courses co-taught by EAS faculty and JPL scientists—and to increase funds for student aid, faculty start-up packages, and cutting-edge research equipment.

"EAS faculty and students make an impact by driving fast-growing fields like medical engineering and addressing urgent challenges such as the development of affordable renewable energy," Rosakis says. "The Booth Leadership Chair will help me and future division chairs support potentially transformational research and educational efforts that could not go forward without early funds. This gift has the potential to benefit the world by fostering EAS's development of vital new technologies and even more vital new young leaders. I am thankful to the Booth family and want to acknowledge their tremendous vision."

"I am excited to see what inventions and ideas become realities as Dr. Rosakis and his successors at the helm of EAS use this endowment now and far into the future," says Lynn Booth, president of the Otis Booth Foundation, a Caltech trustee, and a prominent Los Angeles philanthropist. Booth's late husband, Franklin Otis Booth Jr., established the foundation in 1967. He became an investor, newspaper executive, rancher, and philanthropist after graduating from Caltech in 1944 with a BS in electrical engineering. 

"My husband held Caltech in high regard," says Booth. "I am thrilled that this gift in his honor will connect his name with the pioneering work in EAS forever and give Caltech greater financial flexibility to respond to special opportunities and unforeseen challenges."

"The Booth Leadership Chair will help fuel groundbreaking research and education in engineering and applied sciences, as well as support the development of novel technologies," says President Jean-Lou Chameau. "Our trustee, friend, and visionary partner Lynn Booth and her family and friends at the Otis Booth Foundation are investing in changing the world—the example they set is inspiring."

Over the years, six faculty members in EAS have won the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and two have won the National Medal of Science. Of the 96 professors currently in the division, 30 percent are members of the National Academy of Engineering, 11 percent are members of the National Academy of Science, and 16 percent are fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Written by Ann Motrunich