New provost selected

New provost selected

URBANA – The dean of the engineering school at Purdue University will be the next provost at the University of Illinois – and the first woman to hold the job.

Chancellor Richard Herman has recommended the board of trustees hire Linda Katehi as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. The provost is the chief academic and budget officer, and the second-highest leadership position, for the campus. The UI trustees must approve the hiring.

"She is engaging, quick and has experience with strategic planning," Herman said of Katehi, adding she has strong supporters at Purdue. "The College of Engineering at Purdue ... has progressed significantly under her leadership.

"She's first-rate," he added. "I couldn't be more delighted with the choice."

Katehi is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and has been the engineering dean at Purdue since 2002. Before that, she was a professor at the University of Michigan from 1984 to 2001.

At Purdue, she helped develop a strategic plan to grow the engineering school by 30 percent by the 2007-08 academic year. Since Katehi became dean, the engineering college has increased its faculty size by 15 percent in eight interdisciplinary areas in the college. It has expanded its research funding and is in the midst of a $500 million capital campaign.

Katehi will take office on April 1, but she'll be working with the campus over the next few months. Herman said Katehi will be closely involved in the UI's strategic planning process and has already reviewed a preliminary version of the strategic plan. Herman said he'll consult with her regularly as the next version is developed.

"We've agreed she'll be here from time to time over next few months ... and she'll be a full participant in strategic planning and any budget decisions that are made in the spring for the next year," he said.

She'll also be involved in hiring deans for the engineering, fine and applied arts, and education colleges at the UI.

Katehi said in a news release she is coming to the UI because of its reputation and to be involved in planning for the future of the campus. She said she hoped to encourage interdisciplinary research and diversity.

"I've always felt that diversity is an attribute of quality, and the lack of it in a number of disciplines ... really harms the ability of those disciplines to achieve the quality they aspire to," she said.

Katehi is a native of Greece and received a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1977, before coming to the U.S. in 1979 to study at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Jesse Delia is interim provost, a position he's held since the summer of 2004, when Herman moved to the chancellor's position. Delia announced this fall he would not be a candidate for the permanent provost's job.

Herman served as provost from 1998 to 2004, when he was named interim chancellor.

The UI trustees are scheduled to vote on Katehi's hiring at their Jan. 19 meeting in Chicago.

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