23, No. 15, March 4, 2004
Trustees move forward in search
for new president
UIC News Bureau
The UI Board of
Trustees officially began the search for a new university president
at its Feb. 19 meeting, establishing an 18-member consultative committee
that will recommend finalists to the board. "This will be the most
important thing you do during your term on the board," former UI
president Stanley Ikenberry told trustees at a board meeting in the
Chicago Illini Union.
President James Stukel announced last month that he will retire after
43 years with the university, including 10 years in the top position.
Trustees plan to select a successor before Stukel's intended retirement
in February 2005. Because as many as 10 other universities, including
the University of Wisconsin, also are seeking new presidents, several
board members expressed a desire to start the search as quickly as possible.
During the meeting, the board also decided to hire a search firm, and
could select the firm and approve the members of the university consultative
committee at its March 11 meeting.
The board also is in the midst of planning for the search for a new
chancellor for the Urbana campus. Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced
last month that she will leave the university in July to become chancellor
and president of Syracuse University.
for a President
The university committee will include:
• Eight faculty members from the Chicago,
Urbana-Champaign and Springfield campuses, selected
by the campus senates and the University Senates
• Three students chosen from among the campuses,
recommended by the student governments and student
• One academic professional staff person,
selected by the board from among recommendations
by the professional advisory committees of the three
• One civil service employee, selected by
the board from recommendations by the Employee Advisory
• One university administrator, selected after
consultation with the president and chancellors
• Three representatives from the Alumni Association
and UI Foundation, recommended by the two organizations
• One alumnus at large selected by trustees
" Once the
board of trustees gets the presidential search up and unning, the university
can begin to focus on the search for new leadership at the Urbana-Champaign
campus," said Thomas Hardy, executive director of the Office for
University Relations. "A first step will be to name an interim
chancellor, with the approval of the board. The board could hold off
on a search for a permanent replacement for chancellor until after a
new university president is named, or it could begin a search for a
chancellor on a parallel track with the search under way for the next
"The input of the university family is important to us," said
board chair Lawrence Eppley at the beginning of the meeting in discussing
the presidential search. The board then heard comments from Ikenberry,
former trustees chair Thomas Lamont, Urbana provost Richard Herman and
speakers representing the faculty, academic professional staff, civil
service employees, the Alumni Association and development.
"It's a tough job, a demanding job - and one of the most marvelous
leadership roles in our society,"said Ikenberry, university president
from 1979 to 1995. Ikenberry outlined other qualities the next UI president
should have, including integrity, ability to build consensus, vision
and communication skills.
Lamont, who was board of trustees chair during the search that led to
Stukel's hiring, recommended the board hire a search firm, establish
a search committee, then "keep some distance" during the process.
He stressed the need for confidentiality and warned the board to expect
external pressure, particularly from political leaders. "It's manageable,
but certainly things can get awkward from time to time," Lamont
Other speakers urged trustees to keep in mind the needs of the groups
they represented. UIC student trustee Natalie Garcia and political science
professor Gerald Strom, chair of the UIC Senate executive committee,
reminded the board of UIC's diversity, its urban setting and special
requirements as both a health sciences center and major research university.
"Few, if any, other universities are like us and we hope you hire
a president who not only understands the challenges we face but supports
our efforts to grow and develop," Strom said.
The two representatives speaking for the Urbana campus - student trustee
Nate Allen and genetics professor Michael Grossman, chair of its Senate
Executive Committee - urged the board to settle the 15-year controversy
over Chief Illiniwek, the campus symbol. "The university must resolve
the controversy that is causing such intense divisiveness and disproportionate
distraction for the Urbana campus and even for the board," Grossman
UIS student trustee Andrew Hollingsead and legal studies professor Nancy
Ford reminded the board of the special qualities of the Springfield
campus, including its many returning adult students and its small staff,
drastically affected by budget cuts. "We need a president who can
get more money - state, public and private," Ford said.
Vera Mainz, a spectroscopist at the Urbana campus representing academic
professional employees, and Daniel Sarhage, a UIC plant operating engineer
speaking for civil service staff, reminded the board of the loyalty
of its workers. "Nobody cares about the university more than a
university employee," Sarhage said.