Caltech Home > Welcome > Speeches & Writings > Messages to the Caltech Community
Search Search

Messages to the Caltech Community

2017–18 Academic Year-End Message

May 25, 2018
Today is Ditch Day (not the eternal "tomorrow" of Institute tradition!). Months of planning and hard work by Caltech seniors culminate in Ditch Day, where for almost 90 years seniors ditch classes and escape campus for the day. They leave behind complex challenges known as stacks to divert the remaining students from interest in the temporarily abandoned rooms and possessions.

read the full message

Message on the DACA Program

April 12, 2018
In the absence of action by the legislative and executive branches of government, the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program lies with the courts.  Caltech, along with sixteen peer institutions (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, MIT, Northwestern, Stanford, Chicago, Penn, Vanderbilt, and Yale), filed a brief of amici curiae yesterday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The brief makes a powerful statement about our shared core values and educational mission. It can be found online at http://bit.ly/brief_filed.

read the full message

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Update

March 12, 2018
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was approved in December 2017. The Act resulted in changes to tax rates and brackets, and deductions for federal taxes at the new tax rates were reflected in paychecks starting on February 1, 2018.

read the full message

2018 Commencement Speaker

February 26, 2018
It is my pleasure to announce that the Honorable John Lewis, United States congressman and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, will be Caltech's 2018 commencement speaker. Lewis's visit to our campus will mark the 60-year anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s three-day visit to Caltech in February 1958.

read the full message

Message from the President and Provost on the Federal Tax Bill

January 2, 2018
When we wrote to you in November about the pending federal tax bills, we were responding to concerns expressed by our faculty, students, and staff. Some of those concerns were personal, triggered by the possibility of increased personal tax liabilities, while others were directed toward the potential impact of the legislation on higher education and research and on Caltech in particular.

read the full message

President's 2017 Year-End Message

December 7, 2017
As the end of the calendar year approaches, we look forward to what the next year will bring. The desire to wipe the slate clean and start anew is often palpable, but the ideas and passions of the past are never far below the surface. We experience this keenly in the ebb and flow of the Institute's intellectual pursuits.

read the full message

Message from the President and Provost on the 2017 Federal Tax Bill

November 21, 2017
Some members of our community have expressed concern about provisions in the 2017 federal tax reform proposals that are likely to have negative effects on the educational and research programs of the nation's colleges and universities. Several of these provisions are included in the bill that was passed by the House of Representatives; some appear in a related proposal that awaits action by the Senate. All provisions approved in either chamber will be on the table for conference consideration if the Senate passes a tax bill.

read the full message

2017 Nobel Prize in Physics

October 3, 2017
We are delighted and honored to congratulate Kip Thorne (BS '62) and Barry Barish of Caltech and Rai Weiss of MIT on the award this morning of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. The first direct observation of gravitational waves by LIGO is an extraordinary demonstration of scientific vision and persistence. Through four decades of development of exquisitely sensitive instrumentation – pushing the capacity of our imaginations – we are now able to glimpse cosmic processes that were previously undetectable. It is truly the start of a new era in astrophysics.

read the full message

2017–18 Academic Year Welcome

September 25, 2017
The highlight of the summer was undoubtedly the great American eclipse. Many of us shared in the experience as a band of totality cut a swath across the United States. We were reminded of the magnificence of nature, and the satisfaction derived from understanding and being able to accurately predict how the world around us behaves (at least at the level of celestial mechanics!).

read the full message

Statement on DACA

September 5, 2017
Earlier today, President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This action puts at risk more than 800,000 students who were raised in the United States, students who have flourished as scholars and leaders, and who have enriched their campuses and communities, intellectually, socially, and economically. It cuts to the core of what we stand for as an educational institution: to identify, attract, and support talented individuals, and to create a community where students, staff, and faculty alike can learn from each other and thrive.  In this way, we create knowledge and improve society, helping our nation realize its aspirations. 

read the full message

Statement on Charlottesville

August 16, 2017
The hate-filled and race-tinged violence in Charlottesville has been a jarring challenge to our colleagues at the University of Virginia, to the academic community as a whole, and to our nation.

As an academic community, and as a nation, we must reject hate speech and violence as incompatible with our mission and our aspirations. In particular, as an Institute devoted to creating knowledge and committed to the scientific method, we have a special responsibility to stand up for tolerance and freedom of expression whenever fundamental threats arise.

read the full message

Federal Budget Proposal

March 20, 2017
The President's budget savages science, the arts, and the humanities. This is only the opening salvo in a complicated negotiation with Congress, and many of the most draconian cuts are unlikely to survive. However, it does underscore the need for us as an academic community to make a better case for the centrality of inquiry, research, and innovation to the nation's well being. We must generally and specifically defend analyses substantiated by data and arguments based on evidence.

read the full message

Immigration Update

February 21, 2017
The success of America and, in particular, American higher education has been our ability to attract extraordinary talent from around the world. We welcome diverse perspectives and new approaches to problems as the surest means to create knowledge and improve society. Whether we are the immigrants, or our parents or our grandparents, the opportunity to contribute to the success of our country – through the arts, through science, through technology, through business – has been an animating principle of the American ideal.

read the full message

Executive Order Issued January 27, 2017

January 28, 2017
Friday's executive order limiting immigration and entry to the United States has heightened anxieties for members of our community on campus and at JPL.  This order immediately impacts the personal and professional travel of a subset of students, postdocs, faculty, and staff from abroad and elevates uncertainties for the next few months and likely beyond.

read the full message

Year-End Message

December 12, 2016
The recent election brought into sharp focus a substantial divide in American society. It illuminated very different conceptions of where this country is and should be heading, and challenged assumptions about the relationships between its denizens. It also raises for us, the members of the Caltech community, questions about the role of universities in the fabric of American life.

read the full message

Academic Year Welcome

September 26, 2016
The most impressive feature of Caltech to me is the Institute's spirit of reinvention. Members of our community switch fields, make abrupt turns in career directions, if the problem to be solved is fundamental, entrancing, and impactful. This ethos not only leads to new ways of understanding and manipulating nature—geobiology, quantum information, medical engineering, to name a few recent examples—but it also sustains a powerful culture of fearlessness and ambition.

read the full message

Academic Year-End Message

June 13, 2016
June is a natural time to think of transitions. Newly minted Caltech graduates flow from Pasadena across academia, industry, and society, fearless if not yet confident about solving problems that matter. On the horizon is a new retinue of enthusiastic young people, ready to reinvigorate the spirit of the Institute and remind us of why we choose to be part of the academic enterprise.  We transition from the classroom to SURF and savor uninterrupted time for research.

read the full message

Year-End Message

December 7, 2015
As the new year approaches, it is a time to celebrate the special ways that our students, faculty, and staff contribute to knowledge and to society by doing what we do best: challenging the accepted wisdom, rigorously analyzing problems, and devising innovative solutions. It is also a propitious time to reflect on our values as an intellectual community in the context of the national conversation about diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression.

read the full message

Thank You

December 11, 2014
It has been an exhilarating first few months at the Institute and I am deeply grateful for your generous welcome. There is indeed only one Caltech! As the late President Murph Goldberger aptly observed when asked to explain Caltech's distinction:

"If any single factor can be called responsible for this. . . . it is Caltech's absolute unwillingness to compromise on excellence: excellence of faculty, excellence of students, excellence of facilities."