University of Chicago President Don Randel to become president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The University of Chicago News Office
July 26, 2005 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

University of Chicago President Don Randel to become president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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Jennifer Carnig
Larry Arbeiter


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Don Michael Randel

Additional material:
Press release from Mellon Foundation

Don Michael Randel, who has served as President of the University of Chicago since July 1, 2000, announced today that he has accepted appointment as president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which he described as “unique among the major foundations in its commitment to the humanities and the arts.” Randel will continue to serve as President of the University of Chicago until July 1, 2006, when he will succeed William G. Bowen, who was himself president of Princeton University when he accepted the Mellon presidency in 1988.

James Crown, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “Don has been an extraordinary President for the University of Chicago. Under his leadership, we are well along in the most successful fundraising drive in the University’s history, we have rejuvenated major sections of the campus and the hospital complex with significant new facilities, and we have further enhanced our reputation as one of the world’s leading research universities.

“The Mellon Foundation has made a superb choice, and we wish Don every success in his new endeavor. While he will be greatly missed at the University of Chicago, the nation will benefit from his leadership of one of our great philanthropic enterprises.”

In a press release issued by the New York-based Mellon Foundation, Anne M. Tatlock, chairman of the Mellon Board and chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Trust Company International, said she spoke for all board members in expressing their great pleasure that Randel had agreed to head the foundation. “Under Don’s leadership we are confident that Mellon will continue to provide strong support for some of our nation’s most important institutions and for our unique international programs.

His deep knowledge of the arts and the humanities is a marvelous fit for the foundation, as is his experience leading one of the country’s great research universities.”

“I am delighted that Don Randel has accepted this position,” said Bowen. “He is the ideal choice to lead the foundation’s efforts in its core areas of activity, and I am confident that he and the staff will work very well together. I look forward to handing my baton to such a strong runner.”

The Mellon Foundation was established in 1969 as a result of the consolidation of the Old Dominion Foundation and the Avalon Foundation, founded respectively by Andrew Mellon’s son, Paul Mellon, in 1941, and daughter, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, in 1940. It has $4.5 billion in assets and provided $186 million in grants in 2004.

Randel has asked the University Board of Trustees to assemble the search committee that will choose his successor. To be appointed by Crown, the trustee committee will work closely with a faculty committee that will be chosen by the Council of the University’s Faculty Senate.

In a note to the University community today, Randel wrote, “Two weeks ago I was asked to become the president of the Mellon Foundation. Thus began two of the most difficult weeks of my life.

“As I have so often said, and as I hope you all believe, I love the University of Chicago, and I love the city of Chicago. This is the one university that represents most perfectly what I believe universities should be. And I really do believe that Chicago is the greatest city in America.”

But Randel also noted that he will be 65 years of age by next summer, and after what will then be six years at the helm of the University, this was perhaps the best time still to consider a significant new challenge.

“And the Mellon Foundation represents, uniquely among the major foundations, the very values and fields of interest that I have tried to serve throughout my entire professional life,” he wrote.

Randel came to Chicago after 32 years at Cornell University, where he had served as a faculty member in the department of music and in many administrative posts, including department chair, vice-provost, and associate dean and then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He became provost of Cornell University in 1995.

He is one of the nation’s leading musicologists and served as the editor of the Journal of the American Musicology Society. He also is editor of the Harvard Dictionary of Music 4th ed., published in 2003, the Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music , published in 1996, and the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians, published in 1999.

Since becoming President of the University of Chicago in 2000, Randel has led efforts to strengthen the humanities and the arts on campus, as well as a broad range of interactions with the city of Chicago and a further strengthening of the University’s programs in the physical and biomedical sciences and its relationship with the Argonne National Laboratory. He also has led the Chicago Initiative, an ongoing campaign for $2 billion, the largest in the University’s history, which has so far raised $1.3 billion toward its goal with the help of last year’s $217 million in pledges, the University’s most successful fundraising year ever.

Randel said he was particularly proud of his appointment of a considerable number of “very talented deans and administrative officers who have greatly strengthened the University as a whole and who can be counted on to work together to ensure a great future for the University as well as for the units for which they have personal responsibility.”

The most recent of these appointments was that of Professor Robert Rosner to become Director of Argonne National Laboratory, which the University operates for the U.S. Department of Energy.

During Randel’s presidency, substantial improvements to the University’s facilities also were completed, including the Palevsky residence halls, the Ratner Athletic Center, the new Graduate School of Business and—to be completed this summer—the $200 million Center for Integrative Sciences, the largest building in the University’s history. “These are valuable additions to the University’s physical capital, begun by many good people under my predecessor, Hugo Sonnenschein, and I am proud to have helped maintain the momentum for their conclusion,” Randel said.

The University also completed several joint programs with the city along the Midway. And it opened in its neighborhood a highly successful charter school, which will soon be joined by another, under the auspices of the University’s Center for Urban School Improvement. The University also has launched the Collegiate Scholars Program, a College bridge program aimed at preparing Chicago public school students for elite academic institutions.

Randel also has encouraged a greater awareness of the value of diversity, and last fall, with Provost Richard Saller, he issued a statement on diversity that concluded, “The University (has) made some progress; we now need to raise our aspirations, to monitor our improvements, and to confront our shortcomings. Our higher aspirations will be met only with the focused effort of the whole campus community.”

This spring, Randel was one of three university presidents to receive a $500,000 award for “Academic Leadership” from the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

The foundation cited, among other things, Randel’s leadership in enhancing undergraduate research opportunities and his work to create a strong network on Chicago’s South Side between schools, the community and the University.

One aspect of Randel’s leadership noted by Carnegie Corp. president Vartan Gregorian was his support of undergraduate research, of which the University is one of the country’s most enthusiastic supporters. And during the past several years, it has further expanded the breadth of research opportunities available to students in the undergraduate College.

Gregorian also singled out Randel for his support of school reform initiatives. Not only has Randel enthusiastically supported the University’s innovative charter school in Chicago’s North Kenwood community, he also has vigorously advocated for world-class academic opportunities for students enrolled in Chicago’s public schools.

At his appointment as President in 2000, Randel said he had been approached over the years to consider other presidential positions but always resisted leaving Cornell University. “I could only make this decision because of the extraordinary character and quality of the University of Chicago,” he said. He added, “The University is, I believe, the supreme example of what a university dedicated to the fundamental ideals of intellectual inquiry and expression should be. Its unique profile on the landscape of higher education derives in great degree from its commitment without compromise to an intellectual tradition of the highest order.”

In a 2002 meeting of the Council of the University Senate, President Randel spoke on the University’s policies regarding free speech and intellectual discourse. Citing the Kalven Report of 1967, Randel began by noting that the University “must embrace, be hospitable to and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community.”

But he added that as a community, the University must also maintain “a decent respect for one another and even a degree of trust. No set of rules or codes of behavior can ever fully capture everything that respect and trust require. Maintaining this community is hard work, and each of us must assume some personal responsibility for it.

“In a world of increasing tensions and heated differences,” he continued, “we will sometimes be accused of bias or even rank prejudice for tolerating a wide spectrum of views,” he said. “But the response to views that one finds distasteful is not in the first instance to attempt to suppress them but instead to answer them with the force of argument.”

After speaking of the importance of combating prejudice, he noted the related virtue of diversity, both of ideas and of experience. “No part of the University community can think of itself as immune from this concern for diversity,” he told the Council. “An unprecedented number of programs is in place to increase diversity in the functioning of our academic programs and in the ways in which we carry on our business affairs and our relations with the neighborhood and city of which we are a part. Each of us must believe that embracing—not merely tolerating—diversity is a personal obligation.”

The Mellon Foundation makes grants principally in five core program areas: higher education and scholarship, libraries and scholarly communications, conservation and the environment, museums and art conservation, and performing arts. Additionally, it has been instrumental in the development of ARTstor, JSTOR and Ithaka, not-for-profit organizations engaged in various activities to further the use of information technology to benefit higher education around the world.
Last modified at 12:13 PM CST on Tuesday, July 26, 2005.

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