Distributed February 4, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

Robert J. Zimmer named ninth provost of Brown University

Robert J. Zimmer, vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory at the University of Chicago, has been named ninth provost of Brown University. Zimmer will begin his service at Brown July 15, 2002.

ZimmerPROVIDENCE — Robert J. Zimmer, a distinguished mathematician and research administrator at the University of Chicago, has been named ninth provost of Brown University, succeeding Kathryn T. Spoehr. Zimmer will take up his duties at Brown July 15, 2002.

“The search committee has identified a candidate of unusual intelligence, whose interests and talents match Brown’s academic culture and aspirations,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons, who chaired the nine-member selection committee and the national search. “Professor Zimmer’s experience as a distinguished faculty member, innovative research leader, and strong exponent of excellence in graduate and undergraduate education will be particularly valuable as Brown considers significant investments in its faculty and academic programs. I am delighted that he will be joining us.”

As vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory, Zimmer has been responsible for scientific, administrative and contractual oversight at one of the nation’s premier research facilities. Argonne Laboratory, owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by the University of Chicago, has 4,500 employees and a budget of nearly half a billion dollars. Zimmer also serves the university as the Max Mason Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics.

“Brown has an extraordinary record of achievement in education and research,” Zimmer said. “It is a privilege for me to come to Brown as provost and contribute to realizing the great aspirations that the president, faculty and students have for further enhancing Brown’s academic programs.”

At Brown, the provost is the second-ranking officer in the administration and serves as the officer in charge when the president is away. A primary responsibility of the provost is to ensure that University resources are applied in a manner consistent with Brown’s academic mission. The provost:

  • is responsible for broad oversight of the University’s academic programs;
  • oversees libraries, computing resources, deans, and directors of institutes and centers;
  • acts on recommendations regarding faculty appointment, reappointment, tenure and promotion;
  • reviews fund-raising needs and priorities for consistency with the University’s goals.

A graduate of Brandeis University (A.B., summa cum laude, 1968), Zimmer earned his graduate degrees at Harvard (A.M., mathematics, 1971; Ph.D., mathematics, 1975). He began his academic career as assistant professor of mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975, and joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1977 as L.E. Dickson instructor of mathematics. He advanced to associate professor (1979) and professor (1980), and was named Mason Professor in 1996. He also served as professor of mathematics at the University of California–Berkeley from 1981 to 1983 and has held visiting positions or long-term summer appointments at universities in Europe, Australia and Israel.

The author of two books and more than 80 research articles, Zimmer’s primary intellectual interests include ergodic theory, Lie groups, discrete subgroups, differential geometry, transformation groups, group representations, foliations and related questions of geometry, group theory and analysis. He has served on the editorial boards of Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems, Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, Geometriae Dedicata, and Journal of Geometric Analysis and is series editor of the Chicago Lectures in Mathematics Series.

Zimmer has served in a number of administrative capacities since 1991, including department chair (1991-95), associate provost for research and education (1995-98), deputy provost for research (1998-2000), deputy provost (2000-01), and vice president for research and for Argonne National Laboratory (2000 to present).