Jean-Lou Chameau is leaving his post as president of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena at an unspecified date later this year to head the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
KAUST confirmed the move of the French-born engineer in a statement on 19 February. Chameau has served as president of Caltech since September of 2006 and has sought to promote multidisciplinary research and education on campus. His wife, Carol Carmichael, worked as a faculty associate in the engineering department. In a statement, Chameau said the move came as something as a surprise.
“Until recently, Carol and I believed we would complete our careers at Caltech and retire in Pasadena,” he said in a statement. “We did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity: to lead the recently created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).”
Chameau has helped to raise nearly US$1 billion in funding for Caltech since arriving that the university. His appointment to KAUST will likely give a major boost to efforts there to make it into a world-class institution. He replaces Choon Fong Shih, a mechanical engineer who has overseen the university since it opened its doors in 2009.