Hamilton confirmed as Oxford vice-chancellor

Provost Andrew Hamilton has been confirmed as the next vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, officially anointing him as the next leader of the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Members of Oxford’s Congregation, the university’s parliament, had until noon Monday to object to Hamilton’s nomination, which was announced June 3. None did so.

Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton has been confirmed 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. The search for the next Yale provost is likely to conclude by the fall.
Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton has been confirmed 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. The search for the next Yale provost is likely to conclude by the fall.

Leading up to his confirmation, the one knock against Hamilton was that he is an “outsider,” having neither attended Oxford nor taught there. But the Congregation did not hold that against him, and Hamilton will now succeed John Hood in October 2009 as the university’s top official.

“I am delighted that my future colleagues have shown this confidence in me and my appointment,” Hamilton said in a statement. “It is still well over a year until I take up my new duties but I would like to assure everyone at Oxford, and all those associated with it, that I shall work tirelessly to repay their trust and to help ensure that a great University has an even better future.”

As provost, Hamilton served as Yale’s top administrative and academic officer after University President Richard Levin, to whom he effectively served as his No. 2.

His departure opens up a key position in the upper ranks of the University administration, and one Levin is currently in the process of filling. But more than he would talk about the search process, in a recent telephone interview, Levin gushed about how he is “thrilled” by Hamilton’s appointment.

“He’s extremely well suited to this new undertaking,” Levin said. “He’s a product of the British education system; he knows and understands it.”

Levin said Hamilton will stay on as provost until a successor takes office sometime this autumn. Hamilton would then have some time to finish his research work before taking some much-deserved time off before heading to England next year, Levin said.

The Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry, Hamilton joined the Yale faculty in 1997 and served as chairman of the Chemistry Department and deputy provost for science and technology before being elevated to his current position.

He was seen as a sure-fire candidate for a university presidency, with the only remaining question being which school he would eventually lead. Some observers had predicted he might succeed former Yale Provost Alison Richard as the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, where Hamilton earned his doctorate. But Oxford got to him first.

Hamilton will be the fourth consecutive Yale provost to take the helm of a leading university, following in the footsteps of Judith Rodin, who went to the University of Pennsylvania; Richard; and Susan Hockfield, the president of M.I.T.

Levin said while it is “painful” for him to lose a top administrator like Hamilton, he completely understands why he, like his predecessors, decided to leave his first-floor office in Warner House for the run of another school’s president’s house.

“If I want to stay in this job, I can’t really assume a provost is going to stay,” Levin said. “I’ve always had the view that people who serve Yale so devotedly should have opportunity to move on and do the best they can.”

Selected past News coverage of Andrew Hamilton and the new West Campus:

Hamilton nominated to lead Oxford (6.3.08)
A different A. Hamilton on Eli Minds (1.24.08)

Manifest Destiny: Yale Looks West
A Six-Part Series

1) In a whirlwind, Yale goes West
2) With West campus, Yale excuses form for function
3) Ortiz’s new calling: Yale-West security
4) Bayer site to welcome overflow art
5) West Campus to open new doors in University’s scientific research
6) West Campus no new Old Campus

Yale buys science complex (8.31.07)

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