• Caltech's new President Rosenbaum proves to be approachable by anwering The Tech's questions. (Photo - Caltech.edu).With the hustle and bustle of convocation and his inauguration out of the way, The Tech staff decided it was time that the student body learned more about the new institute president, Dr. Thomas Rosenbaum.

      By Monica Enlow

      In thinking of what to ask, we drew our inspiration from the questions that prefrosh were asked very frequently during rotation. Thus, it was decided to give president Rosenbaum the “prefrosh treatment,” because he should not be exempted from answering the slew of repetitive questions that prefrosh are subjected to for a week. Additionally, a few more pointed questions were asked because as well-educated students, we care about Dr. Rosenbaum’s vision for Caltech.

      What are you interested in studying here at Caltech?

      How can a place with only 300 faculty members, 950 undergraduates, and 1250 graduate students dominate so many fields of science and engineering?

      What do you like to do for fun?

      Escape to my low temperature physics laboratory.

      You’ve just received an official notice from JPL that the world is ending in six hours because an Earth-sized asteroid is about to collide with the Earth. How do you spend your last six hours?

      Tapping the brilliant minds of Caltech people to lasso, divert, or blow up the asteroid.

      Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Caltech President

      If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what is that song?

      Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.

      When you go to Subway, what do you put on your sandwich?

      Growing up in New York City, I learned that subways are for riding, not eating.

      (If you feel inclined to share) What was one of your craziest college memories?

      Driving 30 hours straight from Boston to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with two college friends, and then turning around and driving back north.

      If someone handed you a canvas and paint at this exact moment, what would you paint a picture of?

      Schrödinger’s Cat

      Tell us something about you that not many people know about you.

      I broke my wrist playing football, my ankle playing basketball, and my arm playing softball, and still fancy myself an athlete…

      What is one thing you hope you accomplish during your time at Caltech?

      Ensuring that Caltech is the destination for the most innovative and original people in the world, whatever their background or experience.

      What is your opinion of the current state of affairs at Caltech? What do you see that works well? What areas do you think could use more attention?

      Caltech is a wonderful place and in fundamentally good shape. Our culture of ambition, focus, intimacy, and intensity are unparalleled in higher education. That, of course, does not mean that we can’t be better. The student experience, translational research, and generating resources for what is in essence an intellectual venture fund are three areas that I believe present opportunities.

      Thomas F. Rosenbaum giving the inaugural Address - Oct. 24, 2014 (Photo - YouTube).

      Do you see Caltech primarily as a research institution, or an institute for higher education?

      This is a false dichotomy. Being at the forefront of discovery provides the opportunity to infuse the classroom with the excitement of research and the perspective of what it takes to push the boundaries.

      What do you think is the biggest problem facing Caltech today and in the near future?

      The present funding environment rewards conservative approaches to science, while the genius of Caltech is that we are unafraid to try big new ideas, even if they may fail.

      How many coats do you have to hide away in storage now that you live in SoCal?

      When I arrived in Chicago, I bought the thickest down jacket I could find. It is still in Chicago.

      Lastly, if you hadn’t become a scientist, what profession do you think you would be doing right now?

      Philosopher. Of course, being president affords me opportunities to be both scientific and philosophical.

      This article first appeared on The California Tech. Monica Enlow is the Editor in Chief.


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      1. Mike Pashistoran says:

        I wish she had asked if his new position came with a raise! Still, nice, informative article from the student paper.

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