Inaugural Ceremony of the Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Chair - IHES

Inaugural Ceremony of the Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Chair

On February 1st, 2024, the Institute celebrated the launch of a new Permanent Professor’s Chair named after Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Director of IHES from 1994 to 2013 and now Nicolaas Kuiper Honorary Professor at the Institute. The creation of this Chair was made possible through an exceptional gift to the endowment fund of Friends of IHES by Claire-Lise and Philippe Tondeur, which was then matched by Marilyn and Jim Simons through the Simons Foundation International. The inaugural holder of the Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Chair is Dustin Clausen, a Permanent Professor at the Institute since April 2023.

During the ceremony, Marwan Lahoud, President of the IHES Board of Directors, as well as the donors, spoke about their friendship and admiration for the scientific and political career of Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. They particularly emphasized that it is also thanks to Jean-Pierre Bourguignon’s vision that the Institute is now able to launch a new Permanent Professor’s Chair. It was indeed shortly after the beginning of his term as Director of IHES in 1994, that he began to see private funding as an essential means to ensure the Institute’s financial sustainability. Through their donations, Claire-Lise and Philippe Tondeur, on one hand, and Marilyn and Jim Simons, on the other, hope to provide the necessary material resources to continue making IHES a conducive environment for top-level mathematical creation, especially for its Permanent Professors.

In his speech, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon also reflected on his friendships with the donors. He reminisced about his initial meetings with Philippe Tondeur at the Arbeitstagungen in Bonn and his stay at Stony Brook in 1972-1973 upon Jim Simons’ invitation. To put this major donation into perspective, he highlighted the crucial role of the Permanent Professors in the history of the Institute: it is their research and attractiveness that have built the reputation of the Institute.

It is in this lineage that Emmanuel Ullmo, Director of IHES, sees Dustin Clausen, the first holder of the Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Chair. The scientific conference to inaugurate the new Chair, organized by Dustin Clausen and held on January 26th, 2024, offered a comprehensive overview of his diverse mathematical interests including stable homotopy theory, p-adic geometry, geometric Langlands correspondence, number theory, and more. These fields have recently seen exciting new developments thanks to the theory of condensed mathematics developed by Dustin Clausen and Peter Scholze.

To conclude the inaugural ceremony of the Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Chair, Dustin Clausen discussed some of the work he has undertaken since his arrival at the Institute in April 2023. He notably established a generalization of the Quillen-Lichtenbaum descent conjecture with Robert Burklund (to appear), and developed unstable algebraic K-theory with Mikala Ørsnes Jansen. Together with Peter Scholze, he has been teaching a widely followed course on condensed mathematics, serving as the foundation for a forthcoming research monograph. Through this book, Dustin Clausen hopes to make the theory of condensed mathematics more accessible to the broader mathematical community.

Claire-Lise and Philippe Tondeur

Claire-Lise and Philippe Tondeur are a Swiss-American academic couple who have spent most of their lives as university professors in the United States. While Philippe is a mathematician, Claire-Lise specializes in French literature. It was through her husband that she was introduced to the world of mathematics and mathematicians. Both are particularly fascinated by the creative process in both science and art. Philippe has been heavily involved in science and technology policy, notably as the director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the NSF at the turn of the century.

Marilyn and Jim Simons

Marilyn and Jim Simons have been involved in the development of IHES for almost 30 years. As co-Chairs of Friends of IHES, they have set up a dedicated endowment fund for the Institute in the United States with the goal of raising 20 million dollars by 2025. To encourage donations to the fund, they have committed to match every gift of up to 10 million dollars through the Simons Foundation International. To this day, more than 17 million dollars in gifts and pledges have already been secured for the endowment.

Rewatch the ceremony here.