President Randel to lead Mellon Foundation after sixth, final year at Chicago
Before he departs July 1, 2006, to take on his next challenge as president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, President Randel will leave his mark, not only on the University of Chicago, but also on the city in which the institution resides.
Randel, who has served as President of the University since 2000, has substantially broadened the range of interactions the University has with the city of Chicago, while also strengthening the humanities and the arts on campus and leading the University’s Chicago Initiative, the $2 billion capital campaign.
James Crown, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “Don has been an extraordinary President for the University. Under his leadership, we are well along in the most successful fund-raising 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,” Crown added. “While he will be greatly missed at Chicago, the nation will benefit from his leadership of one of our great philanthropic enterprises.”
Randel, who describes the Mellon Foundation as “unique among the major foundations in its commitment to the humanities and the arts,” will succeed William Bowen, who was himself president of Princeton University when he accepted the Mellon presidency in 1988.
In a press release issued by the New York-based Mellon Foundation, Bowen said: “I am delighted that Don Randel has accepted this position. He is the ideal choice to lead the foundation’s efforts in its core areas of activity, and I look forward to handing my baton to such a strong runner.”
The Mellon Foundation has $4.5 billion in assets and provided $186 million in grants in 2004. The 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.
In a note Randel sent to the University community, he wrote that his decision was made after much deliberation. “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.
“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 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.
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.
At his appointment as President in 2000, Randel said he always resisted leaving Cornell University. “I could only make this decision because of the extraordinary character and quality of the University of Chicago.” 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.”
Beyond the University’s work in the city of Chicago—several joint programs with the city along the Midway Plaisance, a highly successful neighborhood charter school and the Collegiate Scholars Program, a College bridge program aimed at preparing Chicago Public Schools students for elite academic institutions—it also has, under Randel, continued to strengthen programs in the physical and biomedical sciences and its relationship with the Argonne National Laboratory.
Randel also has led the Chicago Initiative, the largest capital campaign in the University’s history, which has so far raised $1.302 billion—of which $1.013 billion is cash received—toward its goal. With the help of last year’s new commitments of $228 million, it has been the University’s third most successful year in fund-raising, with the second highest cash total—$183.1 million—in University history.
Randel said he is 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.
During his presidency, substantial improvements to the University’s facilities also have been completed, including the Max Palevsky Residential Commons, the Gerald Ratner Athletics 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.
This spring, the Carnegie Corp. of New York recognized Randel with its $500,000 Academic Leadership award for his 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. He was one of three university presidents to receive the honor.
During his presidency, Randel also has encouraged 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.”