The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, was chartered in December 2006 as “an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement” in Saudi Arabia. According to KAUST it is “the realization of a decades-long vision” of King Abdullah. The King has said that one of the aims of KAUST is to “promote the economic development and social prosperity of the people of the Kingdom and of the world.” At the time of KAUST’s opening in September 2009 he said,
“We hope that KAUST will become a lighthouse of knowledge, benefiting our people, religion and the humanity at large through a blend of thoughts and knowledge,” the king said.
The founding president of KAUST Dr. Choon Fong Shih, who took up the post after nine years as President and Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Singapore, described its mission through a concept he called “heartware” at the 2009 inauguration.
“KAUST’s heartware is the sum of our ideas, our people and our culture. Our ideas are the lifeblood for research and education, innovation and enterprise. Our people — faculty, students, staff — inject a pioneering spirit to our extraordinary endeavor. Our culture infuses our community with purpose and vitality. Our heartware is what gives life to KAUST and what makes KAUST tick.”
Last week KAUST announced that Dr. Shih was completing his tenure as president and would be followed in the post by Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau. Lucien Zeigler, Director of Research at SUSTG picks up the story.
New President for KAUST in Saudi Arabia
Lucien Zeigler | SUSTG
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, known as KAUST, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, announced a new president in Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, who will be the second to serve in that post since the university’s inception.
Dr. Chameau previously served as President of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
According to the press release, the search for a new president took ten months “of hard, careful, and now fruitful work to find and recruit the perfect leader for KAUST, Dr. Chameau.”
The Chairman of KAUST’s Board of Trustees, H.E. Ali I. Al-Naimi, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said the board “could not have found a better President for KAUST. Jean-Lou Chameau’s track-record as a researcher, educator and distinguished academic leader make him uniquely qualified to lead the next phase of KAUST’s development.”
Dr. Chameau will replace Choon Fong Shih.
KAUST uses English as its official language. The University was founded and opened by King Abdullah in 2009 and focuses exclusively on graduate education and research.
One such area is renewables. The KAUST “New Energy Oasis” program, for example, focuses on solar power, a potentially lucrative sector because the Kingdom receives upwards of 3,000 hours of sunlight a year.
KAUST “is positioned to have a dramatic impact on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the world. For that reason, it is more than a university. It is an undertaking of historic importance,” Dr. Chameau said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The press release carried Dr. Chameau’s biography, included in full below:
“A native of France, Dr. Chameau received his undergraduate education at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts et Metiers in France and later received his PhD in civil engineering at Stanford University. He has had a remarkable career in a number of US institutions. Prior to joining Caltech, he had an exemplary record as the dean of engineering and then provost at Georgia Tech.
“He was appointed President of the California Institute of Technology, which is more commonly called Caltech, in September 2006. Dr. Chameau is credited with promoting a multidisciplinary approach to research and education at Caltech and encouraging the development of programs in areas of societal impact, including energy, medical science, and the environment. Dr. Chameau also placed great emphasis on improving students’ educational experiences, and advancing entrepreneurial and international opportunities for faculty and students.
“Caltech, which is also home to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was ranked number 1 among those research universities in the world which were ranked by the Times Higher Education in 2012-2013.
“According to Dr. Chameau, “Until recently, I believed I would complete my career at Caltech and retire in Pasadena. I did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity to lead KAUST. Like many other academics around the world, I heard about KAUST not too long after it was founded and was impressed with the clarity of the vision to establish a 21stcentury university that serves as a beacon for learning and research and for contributions that both make to human welfare. As I considered accepting the position at KAUST, and spoke with members of the Board and the academic leadership, I was impressed by the dedication of effort and resources to realize that vision and the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence.”
“Dr. Chameau added, “Because of its unique location, and its charter as a new international center of learning and research, KAUST is positioned to have a dramatic impact on the Kingdom and the world. For that reason, it is more than a university; it is an undertaking of historic importance. I will dedicate my energy to lead it toward achieving its bold vision.”
- Saudi “Glasnost”: A Conversation with Robert Lacey – Exclusive – SUSRIS – Dec 30, 2009
- Coed Saudi Campus is Focus of Reform Controversy – Patrick Ryan – SUSRIS – Dec 12, 2009
- KAUST: A Catalyst for Small Business Growth? – David Hamod – SUSRIS – Oct 12, 2009
- Opportunities and Change in the Kingdom: A Conversation with David Hamod – SUSRIS – Oct 12, 2009
- A New Paradigm? – “Saudi’s Cookin’!”: Robert Lacey on the Opening of KAUST – SUSRIS – Sep 9, 2009
- Reactions to Opening of KAUST – SUSRIS – Sep 26, 2009
- KAUST Symbol of Past Efforts – SUSRIS – Sep 26, 2009
- A New “House of Wisdom” is Opened – Sep 26, 2009
- King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – Sep 2, 2009
Also by Lucien Zeigler
- On SUSRIS/SUSTG – The Saudi Cultural Mission’s New Headquarters – Lucien Zeigler – Jul 25, 2012
- On SUSRIS/SUSTG – In Major Shift, Saudi Aramco Expands in Oil Trading – Lucien Zeigler – Jun 23, 2012
- On SUSRIS – The New Minister of Commerce and Industry – Lucien Zeigler – Dec 16, 2011
- On SUSRIS – In Saudi Arabia, Challenges Aplenty But None Insurmountable – Lucien Zeigler – Mar 9, 2011