News Release

U of M Vice President for Research Chris Cramer announces departure from the University for national research opportunity


University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Chris Cramer announced today his decision to leave the University later this spring. Cramer will join Underwriters Laboratories as the organization's senior vice president and chief research officer who will help set the direction for the organization’s existing research and expansion into new areas of focus.

Under Cramer’s leadership as vice president for research for almost three years, the University of Minnesota’s research enterprise grew significantly and continuously, enhancing the University’s standing as one of America’s leading research universities. An exclamation point on the growth achieved during Cramer’s tenure came when research expenditures exceeded $1 billion in fiscal year 2019 for the first time in University history— a milestone only a handful of other public universities have reached. Cramer also highlighted the close connection between research and education at the University, emphasizing the unique opportunities for University students and the value for the state in having graduates with hands-on experience at the cutting edge of knowledge—contributing to discovering what will be in the “textbooks of tomorrow.” 

“It has been my distinct privilege to lead the University of Minnesota’s world-class research enterprise. We have a phenomenal collection of great minds and talent, and the work they produce collectively continues to change Minnesota and the world for the better,” Cramer said. “Even in the face of uncertainty and navigating through a pandemic, University researchers and the work of my office’s team together have kept our research enterprise healthy, growing, and relevant. We’ve had tremendous successes improving the lives of Minnesotans and helping our state to prosper. I’m honored every day to work with such dedicated and innovative colleagues.”

Since assuming his position as vice president for research in November 2018, Cramer also oversaw the University’s continued growth in technology commercialization and innovation efforts. In fiscal years 2019 and 2020, the University’s Venture Center launched a record 38 startup companies based on discoveries and inventions by University researchers, translating University discoveries into commercial areas where they can be applied to problems facing Minnesota and the world.

Additionally, Cramer was an integral part of the team that helped BioMADE, a recently established Manufacturing Innovation Institute sited on the St. Paul footprint of the U of M’s Twin Cities campus, to secure $87.5 million in funding commitments from the U.S. Department of Defense. Future collaborations with BioMADE are certain to further enhance the University’s reputation as an international leader in the growing field of industrial biomanufacturing, which is expected to become a $4 trillion annual industry worldwide over the next 10-20 years.

“Chris has proven to be an exemplary leader and a tenacious advocate for the University's research mission during nearly three decades on our faculty,” said University President Joan Gabel. “He has not only strategically guided the University’s steadily expanding research impact, he has simultaneously kept an eye on the future to ensure our institution and state will remain strong in the years and decades to come.”

In all, Cramer dedicated 29 years to the University of Minnesota since becoming part of the faculty in the U of M’s Department of Chemistry in 1992. Prior to and while serving as vice president for research, he authored more than 500 peer-reviewed articles and his scholarly work has received 60,000 citations to date. He won both of the two system-wide awards for teaching offered by the University, one for his work with undergraduates and one for his work with graduate and professional students, and he led faculty and University governance for one year as chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee. He also served for 15 years as editor-in-chief of the scholarly journal Theoretical Chemistry Accounts and for 20 years as an associate editor of the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry

As part of his transition, Cramer will retire from his tenured professorship and will maintain professor emeritus status at the University. Current Associate Vice President for Research and Professor Michael Oakes will serve as interim vice president for research after Cramer leaves his position on June 1. Gabel intends to launch a national search in the fall.

Media Contacts

Main Line

University Public Relations
(612) 624-5551