Academy Leadership

Gregory C. Farrington

Executive Director & William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair

Greg FarringtonThe Academy’s Executive Director (or Chief Penguin, as he likes to call himself), Dr. Greg Farrington, faces a rare opportunity: to help a beloved institution with a 157-year history reinvent itself from the ground up—and to reimagine the role of natural history museums in the 21st century along the way.

When Farrington joined the Academy in early 2007, the stage was already set for this transformation—a record-setting new building expected to receive a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council was under construction in Golden Gate Park. Farrington turned his attention to the play that would unfold on that stage, making sure the research, exhibition, and education programs inside the new Academy would be every bit as “Platinum” as the building itself.

Farrington has focused the Academy’s programs on two of the most important questions of our time: “How did life happen?” and “How can we sustain it?”  The only institution in the world to combine a museum, aquarium, and planetarium, as well as research and education programs, the Academy is uniquely positioned to explore these questions. 

Farrington brings a blend of leadership, scientific literacy and fundraising experience to his role as executive director. He came to the Academy from Lehigh University, a highly selective national research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he was president for eight years.  

While at Lehigh, Farrington spearheaded a $500 million fundraising campaign to enhance University programs and quality of life. He led a dramatic improvement in university-community partnership by working closely with the City of Bethlehem, earning him an appointment to the Pennsylvania governor's transition team for the Department of Community and Economic Development in 2003.

Before joining Lehigh University in 1998, Farrington spent 19 years at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he served as professor, Director of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, and Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

A widely published chemist, Farrington holds more than two dozen patents and has written more than 100 articles in the fields of solid state chemistry, electrochemistry and education. He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Clarkson University.