Alumnus David Oxtoby named president of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

December 5, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, MA | December 3, 2018

David OxtobyThe American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced that David W. Oxtoby (Ph.D. Chem, '75) has been named the organization's next President. A chemist by training, he served as President of Pomona College from 2003 to 2017. He was elected a member of the American Academy in 2012.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and 60 other individuals who anticipated that the young republic would need to gather knowledge and promote learning to succeed in an uncertain future. 

The Academy honors the excellence of its members and brings them together across disciplines, fields, and professions to pursue nonpartisan research and provide critical insight on issues of profound importance to the nation and the world. Areas of focus include the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, international security, the humanities, and science policy. 

In making the announcement, Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Academy's Board of Directors, Dean Emerita of the Duke University School of Medicine, and Vice Chancellor Emerita for Academic Affairs at Duke University, said, "We are thrilled that David is ready and excited to help the Academy fulfill its mission to support this still-young nation through its work to understand complex issues and advance the common good."  

Dr. Oxtoby graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.  At the University of Chicago, he held the William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professorship and served as Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences.  He championed inclusivity and sustainability at Pomona College, recruiting a diverse student body, more than doubling the number of low-income students, and completing a successful capital campaign.  He served as Chair of the Board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and as President of the Harvard Board of Overseers.  Since 2017, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founded the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

"This is an honor that comes with both a great history and significant responsibility," noted Dr. Oxtoby. "I look forward to helping the Academy leverage the expertise and extraordinary breadth of its membership to address critical issues and advance the welfare of the nation and the world." 

Chief Judge Diane P. Wood (U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit) chairs the Academy's Council and led the Presidential Search Committee. She added that "members and staff are grateful to current President Jonathan Fanton for his leadership over the past five years, the work we have accomplished, and the strong foundation we have built together. We look forward to working with David Oxtoby in furthering the mission of the Academy and increasing the impact of our work." 

Dr. Oxtoby will start his presidency in January 2019.