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10/06/2011 07:00:00

From the President's Outbox: Celebrations to Start the New School Year

A new school year is underway, and I would like to celebrate some recent milestones reflecting our hard work and devotion to excellence.

Caltech is #1! Yesterday we learned that the Institute has been rated as the number one university in the 2011–2012 Times Higher Education global ranking of the top 200 universities, knocking Harvard University out of the top spot for the first time in the survey's eight-year history. Academic rankings should be viewed with a fair amount of skepticism, however let's enjoy this one, at least for one year!

Since hearing the news, I have experienced two emotions—excitement and gratitude. I'm excited that the hard work and dedication of our faculty, students, staff, and trustees are being recognized on a global stage. I am also grateful that Caltech's legacy of innovation and unwavering dedication to providing extraordinary people with the environment and resources to pursue big ideas has resulted in this recognition.  

Next, I would also like to congratulate Jacqueline K. Barton, Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor and Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Victoria Orphan, professor of geobiology, for their recent presidential honors. Professor Barton was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed on scientists by the U.S. government. Professor Barton joins a legacy of Caltech medal of science winners—56 in total. However, she has the distinction of being the first woman at Caltech to hold this honor. Professor Orphan recently won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She is a fine example of how Caltech researchers blaze trails through the frontiers of science and technology.

Finally, I want to welcome home the students who proudly represented Caltech at the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., with their innovative design, the Compact, Hyper-Insulated Prototype, or CHIP. Placing in the top 10 out of 19 international teams, our students demonstrated the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and determination that characterizes a Techer. 

This year we will undoubtedly have a lot more to celebrate, but today I want to thank all of you—our extraordinary students, faculty members, employees, and supporters. Your contribution truly makes us #1!

Yours in discovery,


Written by Jean-Lou Chameau