Valerie Jarrett to leave University of Chicago posts for White House

January 9, 2009

Valerie Jarrett Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago and Chair of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has resigned both positions as she assumes her new role as Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison. Jarrett has been on the University Board since 2001 and Vice-Chairman since 2006.

Jarrett has served on the Medical Center Board since 1996, becoming Vice-Chair in 2002 and Chair in 2006.

James S. Crown has been appointed interim chairman of the Medical Center's Board of Trustees.

Crown, Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, will serve out the remaining six months of Jarrett's Medical Center term, at which point the University and the Medical Center will select a new chairman.

Crown is president of Henry Crown and Company, a privately owned investment company, which invests in public and private securities, real estate and operating companies. He is a director of JPMorgan Chase, General Dynamics Corporation and Sara Lee Corporation, and a trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry and the Orchestral Association.

Crown has been on the University Board since 1988. He became Vice-Chair in 2001 and Chair in 2003, when he also joined the Medical Center Board.

Jarrett was one of two Vice Chairs of the University's Board of Trustees. Upon her resignation, Andrew Alper (A.B.,'80, M.B.A.,'81) will serve as the sole Vice Chair. Alper is Chairman of Alper Investments, Inc.

"As Valerie steps away from several important positions on the University and Medical Center boards, we shall miss her dearly," Crown said. "But we applaud her willingness to serve her country, and we know our new President has recruited a superb advisor."

A longtime confidant to Barack Obama and mentor to his wife Michelle, Jarrett served as a Senior Advisor to the Obama campaign and is co-chair of the Obama-Biden presidential transition team. She has been a leader in Chicago's business, civic, education, medical and government circles.

"Valerie oversaw a period of unprecedented growth in facilities, fundraising, recruitment and administrative consolidation at the Medical Center," said Dr. James Madara, CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center. "She brought enormous energy to the Medical Center Board. She knows how to get things done, and done quickly. Her experience in business and government gave her both the vision to make sure our plans extended far into the future, and the urgency to keep pushing toward our goals."

Jarrett's ties to the University of Chicago are longstanding.

Her father, James Bowman, is Professor Emeritus in Pathology and Medicine at the University and the first African American to be tenured in the Division of Biological Sciences. The University's Bowman Society, which promotes minority health care and diversity in the biological sciences, is named after him.

Jarrett's mother, Barbara Bowman (A.M.,'52), taught at the Laboratory Schools while earning her graduate degree in education. She has a large extended family with roots in Hyde Park.

Jarrett was born in 1956 in Iran, where her father ran a hospital as part of a program that sent American doctors to developing countries. After a year in London, the family returned to Chicago in 1963.

Jarrett attended the Laboratory Schools. She then attended Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in Massachusetts, from which she graduated in 1974. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Stanford University in 1978 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

Between 1981 and 1987, Jarrett practiced law at two private firms in Chicago.

In 1987 Jarrett went to work for Mayor Harold Washington as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development. Later she became Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley. In 1991 she hired Michelle Robinson, who was then engaged to Obama, as a mayoral assistant. Later, Jarrett worked as Chicago's Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.

Jarrett has worked at The Habitat Company, a major real estate development and management firm, since 1995 and has been its President and CEO since 2007. From 1995 to 2003, she also served as Chair of the Chicago Transit Board, which overseas the Chicago Transit Authority. Jarrett is Vice Chair of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee as well as Vice Chair of Metropolis 2020.

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