This upcoming academic year will likely be the last one for Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, who has accepted a nomination to serve as president of the National Academy of Sciences beginning next July.
After a six-month search, last June a 28-member NAS nominating committee selected Cicerone, an NAS member since 1990, to become the next NAS president. Cicerone’s nomination will be formally ratified on Dec. 15 in an NAS meeting.
‘There’s a chance that another individual could be nominated [in December], in which case it could be a contested election,’ Cicerone explained. ‘But right now it’s likely that in December, I will be told that it’s not going to be contested.’
Cicerone was excited to hear about the nomination because it almost guarantees the nomination’s ratification among NAS members.
‘Well, it was pretty exciting because this is not a type of position you can apply for,’ Cicerone said. ‘They either select you or they don’t. Actually, I knew for a few weeks that they were focusing in on me, but I was still a little bit surprised. It’s a big honor, it’s a huge job.’
Cicerone will begin his six-year term as the new NAS president on July 1, 2005, in Washington, D.C.
Chartered by Congress in 1863, the NAS describes itself as a private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research. One of Cicerone’s responsibilities will be to serve as a policy advisor to the White House.
‘The main thing they do is produce reports on mostly controversial subjects that have anything to do with medicine, science or technology and sometimes education,’ Cicerone said. ‘One of my jobs will be to help to decide which studies to do when requests come in from the White House, or Congress or state governments or private consortia.’
The chancellor’s decision to accept this nomination was a difficult one to make. Cicerone has had many other job offers presented to him, but this prestigious position was too good to pass.
‘I’ve had a lot of other fantastic opportunities at other universities over the last five or six years and I’ve always said, ‘No, I’m going to stay at UC Irvine because I really like it here and I’m really optimistic about the prospects of UCI,” Cicerone stated. ‘This job though, is not at a university. It’s something very different. And there’s only one of them in basically the whole country.’
Bruce Alberts, current NAS president, was happy to hear that Cicerone accepted the nomination.
‘I am very pleased that Ralph Cicerone has accepted our council’s nomination,’ Alberts said in an NAS press release. ‘I have known and worked with Ralph for many years. He has been an energetic and thoughtful leader for many of our academy’s efforts, as well as for the larger scientific community.’
UC President Robert C. Dynes had mixed emotions when he found out about Cicerone’s nomination.
‘I am, of course, disappointed at the prospect of losing Ralph as chancellor at UCI, where he has led with skill and distinction, further building the campus’s reputation for high-quality academic programs and cutting-edge scientific inquiry,’ Dynes said in a UCI press release. ‘At the same time, I am delighted for the American scientific community as a whole, which will gain substantially from his service as president of the NAS.’
Although Cicerone has less than one year left at UCI, he still has plans for improving the university.
‘This year, in the past few months, we’ve been planning the intermediate-term future of our campus
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