​​​​​Commencement 2013: Welcoming Jean-Lou Chameau as new KAUST President

His Excellency Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
Chairman, KAUST Board of Trustees
December 14, 4th KAUST Commencement Ceremony, Thuwal

Graduating students and families, faculty, staff, fellow Board members, and distinguished guests: Welcome to our fourth Commencement ceremony. It is a pleasure to inaugurate KAUST's new President on this special day when we gather to celebrate the achievements of our graduating students.

Before I speak about President Jean-Lou Chameau, I would like to reflect on the achievements of 2013. It is clear to me that the students and faculty, research teams, and all of the staff at KAUST have much of which to be proud. KAUST is committed to excellence in education and research, and I would like to celebrate our extraordinary students, researchers, faculty, and staff for their achievements this year.

These successes include breakthrough scientific discoveries, international awards, and new collaborations with world-class research institutions and industrial partners. They include new patents, new start-up companies, and further improvements to our state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, including Saudi Arabia's first research vessel, the R/V Thuwal. I have many reasons to be confident about the future potential of our university and how it continues to position itself as a global research institution.

Students, faculty, ladies, and gentlemen: after months of deliberation, the KAUST Board has arrived at what I believe is a positive and indeed stellar outcome for the university, both today and for the future. So I am pleased and honored to welcome President Chameau and his wife Dr. Carol Carmichael to KAUST.

After receiving his engineering degree in France, and earning his PhD in civil engineering from Stanford University, Dr. Chameau had a distinguished career as a professor and administrator at Purdue University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. I also attended Stanford, a few years before Dr. Chameau, so I know he's made of the right stuff.

He then served as president of Golder Associates, a geotechnical consulting company, before returning to Georgia Tech and becoming vice provost for research. He became dean of its college of engineering, the largest in the United States, and then provost and vice president for academic affairs.

He was appointed President of the California Institute of Technology, more commonly called Caltech, in September 2006. Dr. Chameau encouraged the development of programs which had a positive impact on society, including in the areas of energy, medical science, and the environment. Dr. Chameau placed great emphasis on improving the experience of students, and advancing commercial and international opportunities for faculty and students.

Caltech is also the home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One of the highlights of his tenure was the building and landing of the Rover Curiosity on Mars in August of 2012, one of the most outstanding events in the history of space exploration.

During his years there, Caltech was ranked by The Times Higher Education as the number one research university – not in California, not in the United States, but in the world. In fact, this year marks the third year in a row that Caltech has been rated the world's number one university.

In recognition of his achievements, Dr. Chameau was made President Emeritus of Caltech upon his departure. In addition to his work at Caltech, he has served on a number of leading public and industry boards. He is a member of the French Academy of Technology and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He has received many awards for his work as an educator and university leader.

President Chameau's track-record as a researcher, educator and distinguished academic leader make him well qualified to lead the next phase of KAUST's development. He will continue to build upon excellence in education and research. His presence on campus, around the Kingdom, and among global audiences, is already bolstering our long-term vision for KAUST. And his task is great. We want KAUST to continue to extend the frontiers of scientific understanding. We want it to help realize the Kingdom's vast potential as a diversified and knowledge-based economy. I believe President Chameau is the right person for the job.

Students, faculty, ladies, and gentlemen: I would also like to recognize Dr. Carol Carmichael. She is the former director of the Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development at Georgia Tech. At Caltech, she was a Faculty Associate in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and she was Senior Councilor for External Affairs. You are also most welcome Carol.

I believe Jean-Lou and Carol both also have a strong sense of community and of bringing people together. Connecting ideas and cultures is one of the key principles of KAUST and they are well placed to keep up this tradition.

I'm proud to inaugurate Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau as KAUST's new President, and to count Jean-Lou and Carol as members of our KAUST family. Please join me in wishing President Jean-Lou Chameau and Dr. Carol Carmichael success and the very best on their new journey.

Thank you.