Hamilton nominated to lead Oxford

In an early-morning e-mail to colleagues Tuesday, Provost Andrew Hamilton said he has been nominated to lead the University of Oxford as its vice-chancellor beginning in October 2009.

Hamilton’s nomination to the senior-most administrative role at the oldest university in the English-speaking world — pending approval by Oxford’s Congregation, or Parliament of Dons — opens a power vacuum in the upper echelons of Yale’s administration that University officials say is expected to be filled by next fall. Hamilton, who will remain at Yale until then, is set to take over from John Hood at the end of Hood’s five-year term as the current Oxford vice-chancellor.

Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton has been nominated as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, raising the question of who will oversee the development of West Campus and jumpstart the expansion of the Yale faculty, particularly in the sciences, set to coincide with the addition of two new residential colleges. A new Yale provost is expected to be confirmed by the fall.
Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton has been nominated as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, raising the question of who will oversee the development of West Campus and jumpstart the expansion of the Yale faculty, particularly in the sciences, set to coincide with the addition of two new residential colleges. A new Yale provost is expected to be confirmed by the fall.

“I am enormously honored and excited at the prospect of helping steward one of the great centers of scholarship in the world,” he said in the e-mail. “But, of course, with this comes the sadness of leaving Yale. I think many of you know how much I love this place. It has given me a home for eleven years, great colleagues to stimulate my research, wonderful graduate and undergraduate students to teach, and an education of my own in the ways of university administration from all of you.”

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy declined to comment on the search for Hamilton’s replacement. Deputy Provost Chip Long and J. Lloyd Suttle, the deputy provost for graduate and undergraduate programs, could not be immediately reached for comment.

University President Richard Levin said in a statement that Hamilton would be missed at Yale, where he led the effort to revamp the tenure process and expand the sciences.

“Andy Hamilton has led major initiatives to strengthen Yale in science, engineering, and medicine while at the same time enthusiastically supporting investments in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts,” Levin said. “He is a first-rate scholar, who is respected by his faculty colleagues as a wise academic leader.”

Hamilton, the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, has been a member of Yale’s faculty since 1997. In that time, he served as chair of the Chemistry Department and deputy provost for science and technology, helping to create the Center for Genomics and Proteomics and the Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering.

More recently, he guided the planning of research programs and facilities on Yale’s developing West Campus and recruited Kyle Vanderlick as Dean of Engineering, with whom he worked to resurrect the School of Engineering.

In other areas, he helped to form the interdisciplinary Humanities Program and to bolster the undergraduate curriculum by revamping requirements in science, quantitative reasoning, humanities and arts.

Oxford Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes, who fills a largely ceremonial role at the university and is appointed for life, said in a statement that Hamilton is an “exceptional choice” to “guide us into the second decade of the twenty-first century.”

As vice-chancellor, Hamilton will provide Oxford with strategic direction and leadership and will represent the university locally and around the world. His duties will include chairing key university bodies and developing the institution’s financial base through fundraising.

And Hamilton is no stranger to America’s friend across the pond. A native of Guildford, Surrey, he read chemistry at the University of Exeter and, after qualifying for a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, earned his doctorate from the University of Cambridge.

Hamilton, whose research focused on the interface of organic and biological chemistry, has also taught chemistry at Princeton University and the University of Pittsburgh. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Hamilton is far from the first Yale provost to relinquish his venerable New Haven office for a more leading role at a prestigious university.

His predecessor, Susan Hockfield, was named president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004; she became the first woman to hold that post. Alison Richard, who Hockfield replaced, left the office in 2003 to become vice-chancellor at Cambridge. Judith Rodin, who led the Provost’s Office from 1992 to 1994, served as president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 until 2004.

The Oxford appointment squashes any real possibility that Hamilton will ascend to the Yale presidency when Levin retires, as Kingman Brewster replaced Whitney Griswold as president beginning in 1964 when Griswold suddenly passed away.

The future of Yale’s next provost, however, is anyone’s call.


  • Bob

    The University of Oxford? Sounds like a reasonable next step for the Provost of the University of Yale, right?

  • @Bob

    It IS the University of Oxford, not Oxford University. Oxford is a city. Yale is not.

  • Ken McKenna

    Amazing! This means both Oxford and Cambridge will be headed by former Yale Provosts at the same time. Alison Fettes Richard is the current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (the Chancellor position is honorary and held by a member of the royal family). She is the first female Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge since the post became executive rather than just ceremonial. Richard was an undergraduate at Newnham College, Cambridge, and went on to eventually serve as Provost of Yale from 1994 to 2002. She became Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge in 2003, and remains in that post to this day.

  • Anonymous

    A great guy and a fantastic provost. I don't blame him for taking advantage of a tremendous opportunity, but Yale will certainly miss him -- even those who don't know what the hell a provost does.

  • Amrit

    Congratulations Andy.
    You will be the best Vice Chancellor.
    Keep Smiling.

  • Anonymous

    This appointment will benefit both Oxford and Yale

  • Anonymous

    What ever happened to no one knowing about Andrew Hamilton? http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/23107

    Its nice to congratulate someone that the Yaledailynews apparently believes no one on campus knows or cares about. Way to be consistent.

  • Y03


    Oxford is looking for a shadowy overlord. Power unseen cannot be subverted.

  • Y08

    The only class I regret not taking at Yale was his.


  • M.Div. '80

    To # 4

    Cellular life a million years ago did not have contained in the union of a cell and an egg the meiotic potential
    to produce a human being in a discreet
    period of time (9 months). It took evolution millions of years to produce that 9 month meiotic miracle. Is this "potential" life? If it is, then the zygote might be "human" life.

  • TC 10

    Are you really going to have the "Abortion: right or wrong?" debate on this message board? For the love of God, mister Divinity80, spare us.

  • Silliman '10

    Mr. Keane,

    You presume too little. In your response to Hieronymus, you hypothesize what would happen if "cellular research suddenly arrived at the conclusion that life begins with the zygote." We already know the answer to that question.

    Science and biology very neatly lay out what a zygote is — it is a zygote. A 15 week fetus, a 15 week fetus. Science cannot answer though, when "life" begins. Life is an artificial concept from the start; scientists can't even agree whether it includes viruses, but that is beside the point.

    I would think you would agree that is up to us as people, though, to decide what to do with that information. If you want to define life as complex, conscious thought, then life doesn't begin until after birth — but we can agree that is not useful.

    The question is not what science can tell us, but to reconcile different moral values, and you seem unwilling to accept that other people have made those moral choices already, and that they are different than your own.

    You say "I believe we will some day reach the tipping point of unaccepteable millions unless society, the courts and religious institutions arrive at a consensus on an accepted defintion of the beginning of human life."

    But since when are "we" a hive mind? Given religious attitudes toward the subject, why should we ever agree? I personally have no amnesia regarding abortion; I do not think life is significant or valuable before birth. Maybe someday it will be unable to some, but not to others.

    You say that besides society, the courts and religious institutions should help decide. Those are basically opposites. In this country, the court exists, not to enforce what society or religious institutions want, but what it finds that the Constitution requires. It already has.

    Religion has no place in this debate. It may matter as to whether one person decides that she wants to have an abortion or not, but religious dictates have no place in American society. Democrats — including religious Democrats who personally oppose abortion (Kerry, Obama) — have tended to understand that.

    Instead of claiming ignorance, though, I'd like to hear your own rationale against (or for) abortion.

  • Recent Alum

    "Its nice to congratulate someone that the Yaledailynews apparently believes no one on campus knows or cares about. Way to be consistent."

    That doesn't make much sense. If anyone on the Yale community is appointed to lead Oxford, of course that person would deserve congratulations in the Yale Daily News. Even if that person were some random administrator that no one knows (I am not saying that this is the case with Hamilton, just that the comment above was especially silly).

  • not busybody womb police


    I don't know to whom your comments are addresed but it feels like me since I was chided for opening the "entire" abortion debate.

    Religion has absolutely nothing to do with my position.

    Albert Schweitzer's "reverance for life" has a lot to do with it.

    But, as you say, "life what"? A clump of cells? I simply do not know.

    However, I do know that two cells, a human sperm and a human egg, when hosted for 9 months of meiotic multiplication, usually produce a human infant.

    You can't say that for just any old clump of cells.

    And WHO is dictating anything to a woman. I merely repeated an anecdote about a female friend and said I'd hate to feel that way, citing a quote from Macbeth.

    The conscience is probably the only private experience left in our techno-invasive world. Only a woman knows why she is having an abortion.

    It is her business. However it is MY business to declare that I feel uncomfortable not knowing when human life begins, and silently sanctioning a million acts a year which I do not know are not murder(or killing, as one blogger insists).

    That is all I am insisting. Please do not impute to me the rabid busybody behavior of evangelical womb police.


  • Recent Alum

    What did the random reference to Romney at the end of the article have to do with the topic of the article? Wow. I am speechless. (If this were the NYT, that would be no surprise, but I hold the YDN to higher standards of journalistic integrity.)

  • reirei22

    Only in New Haven. Justice The City Of Elm`s

  • JHC

    Hey Reporters ! they're having a big protest right now at the clinic on Edwards street,Edwards and Whitney.
    ..i'm not sure now if they were Pro or Anti Abortionist, maybe ask Defeo ,the guy that was yelling at young girls there a few weeks ago, a ringer for the cop stationed on Hillhouse