KAUST Appoints Its Next President

THUWAL, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire — The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is pleased to announce that, on February 16, 2013, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Jean-Lou Chameau as the next President of KAUST.

Dr. Chameau, who has served since 2006 as the President of the California Institute of Technology, will become the second President of KAUST later this year.

The Chairman of KAUST’s Board of Trustees, H.E., Ali I. Al-Naimi, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, announced the appointment today: “We could not have found a better President for KAUST.  Jean-Lou Chameau’s track-record as a researcher, educator and distinguished academic leader make him uniquely qualified to lead the next phase of KAUST’s development.”

Chairman Al-Naimi also thanked the Board of Trustees and, particularly, the search committee, “for ten months of hard, careful, and now fruitful work to find and recruit the perfect leader for KAUST, Dr. Chameau.”

The incumbent President of KAUST, Choon Fong Shih, expressed his delight with the Executive Committee’s decision, noting that, “Having worked with Jean-Lou in the past, I have observed his broad understanding and deep insights in research and education.  He has a genuine affection for his faculty and students.  Our KAUST community is thrilled at the prospect of his taking up the baton to lead KAUST in its journey to build a research university with global reach and impact.”

A native of France, Dr. Chameau received his undergraduate education at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts et Metiers in France and later received his PhD in civil engineering at Stanford University.  He has had a remarkable career in a number of US institutions.  Prior to joining Caltech, he had an exemplary record as the dean of engineering and then provost at Georgia Tech.

He was appointed President of the California Institute of Technology, which is more commonly called Caltech, in September 2006.  Dr. Chameau is credited with promoting a multidisciplinary approach to research and education at Caltech and encouraging the development of programs in areas of societal impact, including energy, medical science, and the environment.  Dr. Chameau also placed great emphasis on improving students’ educational experiences, and advancing entrepreneurial and international opportunities for faculty and students.

Caltech, which is also home to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was ranked number 1 among those research universities in the world which were ranked by the Times Higher Education in 2012-2013.

According to Dr. Chameau, “Until recently, I believed I would complete my career at Caltech and retire in Pasadena.  I did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity to lead KAUST.  Like many other academics around the world, I heard about KAUST not too long after it was founded and was impressed with the clarity of the vision to establish a 21st century university that serves as a beacon for learning and research and for contributions that both make to human welfare.  As I considered accepting the position at KAUST, and spoke with members of the Board and the academic leadership, I was impressed by the dedication of effort and resources to realize that vision and the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence.”

Dr. Chameau added, “Because of its unique location, and its charter as a new international center of learning and research, KAUST is positioned to have a dramatic impact on the Kingdom and the world.  For that reason, it is more than a university; it is an undertaking of historic importance. I will dedicate my energy to lead it toward achieving its bold vision.”

Mr. Andrew Gould, the Chairman of BG Group and former CEO of Schlumberger, led the search committee of the Board.  Mr. Gould said, “Jean-Lou Chameau quickly emerged as the ideal leader for KAUST and I am tremendously pleased that he has accepted the position.”

The search committee’s sentiments were echoed by other Board members as well.  Charles Vest, the President of the US National Academy of Engineering, former President of MIT and a member of the KAUST Board of Trustees, said:  “Jean-Lou Chameau is one of the world’s most respected academic leaders.  He was remarkably accomplished at Caltech and Georgia Tech.  He has always been global in his outlook and perspective.  I can think of no one better prepared to lead KAUST to fulfilling its goals.”

KAUST was founded as an international graduate research university in 2007 and enrolled its first students in 2009.  The third class of MS students graduated, along with the first ten PhD graduates of KAUST, in December 2012.

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