Professor Alice Gast, currently president of Lehigh University and former vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will succeed Sir Keith O’Nions FRS as president of Imperial College London from September 2014.
An internationally renowned scholar in the field of chemical engineering and a leader in higher education, Professor Gast has served as president of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania since 2006. At Lehigh she has focused on the quality of undergraduate and postgraduate education and their integration with research. She has led a campus-wide strategic planning and implementation process, and launched major initiatives in sustainability, inquiry-based learning, neighbourhood revitalisation and campus master planning.
Professor Gast has overseen a 47% increase in the size of Lehigh’s campus estate, expanded the university’s international presence, concluded its $500m fund-raising campaign, and helped to raise an additional $225m during her tenure.
Before Lehigh University, Professor Gast was vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held the Robert T. Haslam chair in chemical engineering. She was previously at Stanford University from 1985 to 2001 as a professor of chemical engineering and as affiliated faculty at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. She has been a US Science Envoy to Central Asia and is currently a board director of the Chevron Corporation and Trustee of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
In 2012 Imperial announced it would create two senior posts, the president and the provost. Professor Gast will be the 16th head of Imperial, and both the first woman and first appointment from overseas to lead the College.
Professor James Stirling became provost in August 2013 and concentrates on the College’s core academic mission of education, research and the translation of research results into practical outcomes. Professor Gast will lead the College’s strategy, including the development of its new 25-acre campus, Imperial West, and its links to government, industry, philanthropists and alumni.
Professor Gast said: ‘I have always been excited by what goes on at Imperial, one of the world’s greatest scientific universities. With its unique focus on science, engineering, medicine and business, and its integrated mission to teach, research and translate its work for the benefit of society, Imperial has a great leadership role in the world. I am therefore deeply honoured by this opportunity to serve as its president.
‘I look forward to getting to know its whole community of staff, students, alumni, friends and supporters, and to helping Imperial to grow and to continue to push the boundaries of learning, discovery and innovation over the coming years.
‘Sir Keith leaves a wonderful legacy and Imperial and the global science community are much stronger thanks to his leadership. Imperial’s future looks very bright, and I am honoured by the invitation to help shape it.’