These endowments—The Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for New Initiatives and the Ronald and Maxine Linde Leadership Chair in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)—were created with money allocated from one of the largest single gifts ever pledged to Caltech, made public last year: the $50 million commitment by Ronald (MS ’62, PhD ’64) and Maxine Linde.
The Linde Center for New Initiatives will furnish annual funding to be allocated to especially promising major endeavors at the discretion of top Caltech leadership; the Linde Leadership Chair will offer a similar resource to the HSS division chair.
“Caltech has thrived by identifying new opportunities before others and purposefully pursuing them,” says President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, holder of Caltech’s Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “It takes a special type of donor to recognize the power of this approach, to enable our faculty and students to venture into the intellectual unknown. The Lindes’ generosity comes from their passion for Caltech, and it has powerful impact on campus and on the world.”
The establishment of the Linde Leadership Chair completes a suite of such endowed chairs for Caltech’s president, provost, and six division chairs, all funded by gifts made during the quiet phase of Caltech’s soon-to-be-announced campaign. Leadership chairs differ from typical endowed professorial chairs. Rather than covering the salaries of distinguished faculty members, they supply discretionary funding for high priorities and new endeavors year after year.
“The HSS faculty continuously generate promising, original ideas to push the frontier in research and teaching,” says division chair Jean-Laurent Rosenthal (PhD ’88), the Rea A. and Lela G. Axline Professor of Business Economics and the inaugural holder of the Linde Leadership Chair. “The Lindes’ generosity helps us make these ideas real and seek new challenges in understanding the human experience.”
In the first of what is expected to be a series of transformational investments, The Linde Center for New Initiatives initially will focus on ensuring and increasing the vitality of Caltech’s Mathematics Department. Planned major renovations of the Alfred P. Sloan Laboratory of Mathematics and Physics will create a facility commensurate with the department’s academic aspirations. Recognizing the Lindes’ decades of engagement, advocacy, and transformational philanthropy that has advanced research and education across numerous disciplines at Caltech, the building will be renamed the Ronald and Maxine Linde Laboratory of Mathematics and Physics.
“This investment in our mathematics program and the renovation will be transformational for our research environment in mathematics,” says Fiona Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics and holder of the Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair in the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. “We now will have the ability to provide modernized classrooms, interaction spaces, and an attractive work environment thanks to the generosity of Ron and Maxine Linde.”
The creation of The Linde Center for New Initiatives exemplifies the Lindes’ longtime strategy for giving to Caltech: support particularly creative and important research and educational projects that would be very difficult to fund on a timely basis from other sources. Among their numerous investments in Caltech’s people and programs are The Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, The Ronald and Maxine Linde Institute of Economic and Management Sciences, and the Ronald and Maxine Linde Professorship, currently held by renowned theoretical physicist Alexei Kitaev.
Ron and Maxine Linde are independent investors. Ron, a Caltech senior trustee and vice chair of the Caltech board, is chair of The Ronald and Maxine Linde Foundation; Maxine serves as president. Previously, Ron was founder, chair, and CEO of Envirodyne Industries Inc., and Maxine was that company’s general counsel and chief administrative officer.