Yerkes Updates

On March 7, 2018, the University of Chicago announced that it will end its activities at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., by Oct. 1, 2018. We will post updates to this site as they become available.
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UChicago activities at Yerkes Observatory to end in 2018

UChicago representatives speak at village meeting in Williams Bay, Wis.

At a public meeting held by the Village of Williams Bay, representatives from the University of Chicago took questions from the Village Board of Directors and heard comments from the public about the Yerkes property.

Public meeting on May 18, 2018

As part of the process to engage the community about the future of the Yerkes property, the University of Chicago will hold a public meeting at Williams Bay High School on Friday, May 18, 2018. The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Williams Bay High School is located at 500 W. Geneva St., Williams Bay, Wis.

University of Chicago Seeks Expressions of Interest in Yerkes Observatory 
Yerkes Proposal Process - PDF

UChicago holds public meeting on future of Yerkes Observatory property
Representatives from the University of Chicago listened to a wide range of input from community members in a public meeting about the future of the Yerkes Observatory property in Williams Bay, Wis., on May 18.

The meeting followed the University’s announcement in March that it will wind down its activities at Yerkes and formally cease on-site operations by Oct. 1, 2018. In late April the University posted a call or Expressions of Interest from those wishing to articulate a vision for the observatory’s future, including potential owners.

More than 300 people came to the public meeting in Williams Bay, with questions and comments from about 30 individuals and 42 written comment cards. The UChicago representatives were Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, and Edward W. Kolb, Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences. Douglas said the views expressed at the meeting will be an important consideration as the University continues to evaluates proposals.
“We are grateful to the people of Williams Bay for welcoming us to their community for this meeting,” Douglas said. “The people who attended made important points for us to consider, and the tone of the discussion was extremely respectful and constructive. We recognize that Yerkes means a great deal for many people, and this meeting reflected that.”

Douglas said there were a number of themes in the comments, including concern over who might purchase the property, the observatory’s valued role in education programs, and questions about how the University will evaluate proposals.

“We heard loud and clear that people do not want the University to approach this as an ordinary real estate transaction, and we agree,” Douglas said. He said the University is looking for proposals that balance a number of priorities, including the need for a sustainable operational model, the interest in continued public programming, and suitable financial terms.

The University’s call for Expressions of Interest requests that interested parties submit proposals before June 15. Proposals will be confidential at this stage, and the University will continue to share more information with the Village and others as the process unfolds, in coordination with parties who submit proposals.