President Robert J. Zimmer to Transition into Role as Chancellor in 2021

August 13, 2020

University leader since 2006 to assume new position at end of academic year

President Robert J. Zimmer will transition into a new role as chancellor of the University of Chicago at the end of the current academic year in June 2021.

While he agreed in 2017 to serve as president through at least 2022, Zimmer announced his intentions to accelerate his planned transition from the role of president at an Aug. 12 Board of Trustees meeting. Zimmer had surgery in May to remove a malignant brain tumor and has since returned to work and is responding well to treatment.

Since taking office in 2006, Zimmer has increased the University’s eminence and helped raise its status among the world’s top research universities. Recognizing Zimmer’s profound impact on the University, the Board asked him to assume the new role of chancellor, in which he will focus on high-level strategic initiatives, advancement of enduring University values, sustenance of key relationships, high-level fundraising and working with the new president in these areas.

“The past 14 years as president of the University have been deeply rewarding for me,” Zimmer wrote in a message to the University community. “On one hand, this was due to the opportunity for enhancing the work of the University and our faculty, students, and staff, reaffirming our enduring values and consequent approach to research, education, and impact, and building new partnerships including our global efforts and a deeper engagement with the communities of the South Side of Chicago. On the other hand, the rewarding nature of the work I have been engaged in over these years is also due to the personal relationships that have developed with the many individuals with whom I have worked closely over that time.”

In a message to the University community, Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Neubauer highlighted Zimmer’s many accomplishments and thanked him for his “ambitious vision and inspired leadership,” including leading the recent $5.43 billion University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact.

“Many of you have seen firsthand the impact that Bob has had on the University and on those who are part of our distinctive community, and the Board is enormously grateful for the many significant contributions he has made during his tenure,” wrote Neubauer, MBA’65. “During his presidency, the University has enhanced its eminence among the top-ranked research universities in the United States and the world and has strengthened its position as a preferred destination for many of the world’s leading scholars and students.”

Neubauer wrote that the Board of Trustees will promptly establish a Trustee presidential search committee and launch an international search for the next president.

Zimmer became the 13th president of the University of Chicago on July 1, 2006, having served most recently as provost of Brown University. Prior to his appointment as president, Zimmer was a University faculty member and administrator for more than two decades, serving as chairman of the Department of Mathematics, deputy provost, and vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He joined the University in 1977 as a Dickson Instructor in the Mathematics Department.