University of Chicago’s new Center in Paris named for John W. Boyer

Alumni and parents give $27 million to honor longtime dean of the College

University of Chicago alumni and parents of UChicago students have contributed $27 million to recognize the leadership of longtime Dean of the College John W. Boyer—a gift that will rename the University’s new Center in Paris and establish a new professorship in his honor.

Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History, transformed the College during his unprecedented 31-year tenure as dean and was instrumental in conceptualizing the initial Center in Paris.

The University of Chicago John W. Boyer Center in Paris will serve as a hub for the University’s teaching and research activities in Europe. First established in 2003, the original Paris Center solidified the University of Chicago’s presence as the regional hub for research and teaching in Europe. To meet demand for programming, a new Center in Paris, designed by renowned architect Jeanne Gang, is scheduled to open in 2024. 

John W. Boyer
John W. Boyer

The new building will nearly triple the current Center’s physical capacity, enabling 100 more undergraduates to study abroad each year. It will also serve as home for the University’s new International Institute for Research in Paris, enhancing facilities for faculty, graduate students, and international scholars from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East while also providing greater opportunities for public participation in programming at the center.

“Enhancing the physical capacity of the Center in Paris presents a great opportunity to deepen and enrich the University’s scholarly connections across France, Europe, and beyond,” said President Paul Alivisatos. “Throughout his tenure, Dean Boyer championed the expansion of the University’s global reach. As a tribute to the impact of his endeavors, it is only fitting that this center will now bear his name.”

A $10 million lead gift was given by the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, on behalf of the Davis Family and in recognition of Boyer’s extraordinary tenure as dean. Members of the College Advisory Council and the Dean’s Parent and Family Council—together with University alumni, parents and trustees—contributed an additional $11.5 million to name the new Center in Paris. 

The John W. Boyer Professorship in the College, made possible by an additional $3.5 million gift from alumni Imran (AB’96, AM’96) and Sorin (AB’96, JD’01) Siddiqui, will be awarded to a faculty member in the humanities or social sciences with a distinguished record of teaching in the Core curriculum and a history of significant contributions to education and student support. During Boyer’s tenure, donors also recognized his transformational vision by contributing $2 million to name the John and Barbara Boyer House in the Campus North Residential Commons.

College study abroad offerings in Paris now include more than 20 programs from European, African, and Russian Civilization to astronomy, neuroscience, global health, human rights, and more. Nearly 60 percent of undergraduates study abroad during their time in the College, and 40 percent of them select Paris as their destination. 

“The expansion of the Center in Paris will benefit faculty, students, alumni, and partners in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for generations to come,” said Boyer, who will transition to a new role as senior advisor to the president in the 2023-24 academic year. “I am deeply honored by this extraordinary gift. The new Center will be a model for what a major American research university can contribute in Europe, becoming a prominent voice of public policy, scholarly achievement, and cultural creativity in Paris and beyond.”