Research and Policy
Robert J. Zimmer
The University of Chicago
On July 1, 2006, Robert J. Zimmer became the 13th President of the University of Chicago.
Prior to his appointment as President, Zimmer was a University of Chicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry, particularly ergodic theory, Lie groups, and differential geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Deputy Provost, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as Provost at Brown University from 2002-2006, returning to Chicago in 2006 to become President of the University.
As President of the University, he serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory; Chair of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a member of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, from 2011 to 2016 and also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010.
President Zimmer is the author of two books, Ergodic Theory and Semisimple Groups (1984) and Essential Results of Functional Analysis (1990), and more than 80 mathematical research articles. He served on the Board of Mathematical Sciences of the National Research Council from 1992 to 1995, and was on the executive committee from 1993 to 1995. Zimmer held the title of Max Mason Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics at Chicago before leaving for Brown, where he was the Ford Foundation Professor of Mathematics in addition to being Provost.
He earned his A.B., summa cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1968 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1975, and joined the Chicago faculty as an L.E. Dickson Instructor of Mathematics in 1977. He was also on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1975 to 1977 and has held visiting positions at Harvard University and at institutions in Israel, France, Australia, Switzerland, and Italy.
President Zimmer has honorary degrees from Tsinghua University and Colby College. In 2017 he was given the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). He is a frequent commentator on free expression and academic freedom.