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Jonathan Dorfan to Lead New Graduate University in Japan
From the Director Emeritus: Promoting International Science and Education

SLAC Today

Friday - July 9, 2010

Jonathan Dorfan to Lead New Graduate University in Japan

(Photo - Jonathan Dorfan)
(Photo by Diana Rogers.)

Jonathan Dorfan has been named president-elect of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University. Dorfan is a SLAC professor of physics and former director of the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, now renamed SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. When OIST, a new institute in Okinawa, Japan, receives accreditation—expected in late 2011—and formally becomes a university, he will become the university's first president and CEO of the OIST School Corporation.

"Jonathan Dorfan is an excellent choice to lead the new Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University," said John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, which operates SLAC. "As a physicist and as SLAC's third director, he demonstrated leadership and vision, attracting great scientists and inspiring them to work collaboratively to advance our knowledge in this new century. Beyond Stanford's borders, he has been an outstanding statesman for science."

SLAC Director Persis Drell added: "I am very excited for Jonathan as he takes on this new leadership role at OIST. I know that the challenges of Jonathan’s new job are well met by his leadership skills and that as president of OIST he will have the opportunity to benefit science globally."  Read more...

From the Director Emeritus: Promoting International Science and Education

The call came out of the blue in October 2009—a professional recruiter asking if I would be interested in joining OIST, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. I had to admit to the caller that I, like most of you, had not heard of OIST. He provided me with a short and tantalizing explanation about OIST and more pointedly about its future. Would I allow my name to go forward as a candidate for the presidency of the yet-to-be-opened graduate university on the Japanese island of Okinawa, he asked. Curious by now, I thanked the gentleman and told him that I would first have to educate myself about OIST. So I looked up the Web site and soon found my way to a list of the Board of Governors. A more impressive group of people you could not find—familiar names like Steven Chu, Jerome (Jerry) Friedman, Akito Arima, Y.T. Lee, Martin Rees and Tim Hunt, to name but a few. I found Web pages depicting massive construction of a university campus, situated a mile above the beautiful coastline of the East China Sea in western Okinawa. And so began an eight-month journey that ended this past week with me enthusiastically accepting the OIST Graduate University Presidency.

What is so magnetic about this opportunity? In short, the privilege of helping to create a new international graduate university positioned by its founding precepts to conduct world-class, interdisciplinary science, limited only by the imagination and ingenuity of the research staff. It is a bold enterprise aimed at blending the rich Ryukyuan culture of Okinawa with the myriad cultures inherent in an international group of scientists. A grand, high-risk endeavor? Perhaps—but one for which the scientific, educational and cultural payoff is, to my mind, going to be transformative.  Read more...


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