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December 2015 Letter to Friends of Caltech

December 4, 2015

Dear friends of Caltech,

Just over a year ago I had the privilege of being inaugurated as Caltech's 9th president. It has been a whirlwind of discovery, with extraordinary colleagues—faculty, students, and staff alike—pushing at the boundaries of knowledge with verve and determination. As a friend of Caltech, you, too, know the exhilaration of being part of an institution that has defined the outlines of the universe as we know it, imagining quarks, discovering quasars, launching the field of molecular biology, and deciphering the inner workings of the earth.

Three weeks ago, the Board of Trustees voted to authorize a $2 billion campaign to secure Caltech's future. As we look to the future, we hearken back to the hallmarks of Caltech's vitality: Excellence, the absolute commitment to recruit and retain the world's most creative and original scholars; Ambition, the intellectual fearlessness to define new schools of thought; and Perspective, the ability to transcend disciplines to impact society and transform the world. These values animate every initiative that we undertake.

Caltech cannot play in every intellectual arena, but where we choose to compete we strive to be the world's best. Looking to the years ahead, Caltech is uniquely positioned to lead the way in areas of remarkable potential ranging from quantum computing to earthquake engineering to global sustainability, from searching for signs of life on planets orbiting other suns to translating basic biological insights into medicines and devices that save lives. When accomplished, imaginative researchers are given the freedom to take calculated risks and forge new paths, intellectual magic occurs. This is why Caltech's research resonates far beyond our campus, enabling the people and breakthroughs necessary to drive advances at labs, startups, companies, and universities around the world.

The most profound change that I have seen in my thirty years in academia is the emergence of the supercharged, competitive educational landscape in which we must pick our way. It extends from undergraduate admissions through graduate student aid to faculty recruitment and retention. Major research universities throughout the world, including Caltech, are investing aggressively across the board and creating ever more complex coalitions that demand imagination coupled with a sure sense of institutional self. Our campaign comes at an essential time when those who resonate with our values and share our ambition to create knowledge for the benefit of humanity can play a dispositive role in realizing Caltech's potential. As captured so well by Eleanor Roosevelt, "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Thank you for all that you do for Caltech. I look forward to sharing our progress after the campaign launch in April.


Thomas F. Rosenbaum