UI vice chancellor for research will step down

UI vice chancellor for research will step down

URBANA – Add one vice chancellor to the list of available administrative posts at the University of Illinois.

Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research for the last six years, plans to step down this summer.

Zukoski said he has accomplished much of what he hoped to do when he was tapped for the job in May 2002 by then-Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

That list includes opening the new Institute for Genomic Biology; getting the UI Research Park and Office of Technology Management off the ground and in "good shape"; stabilizing the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, whose funding was uncertain at the time; rebuilding research compliance operations; and expanding the UI's ability to do research of growing international prominence.

"My sense is we built a strong foundation for a launching pad," Zukoski said Monday. "We're about to launch ourselves into a much greater pre-eminence and have our research have a much greater impact," but it's time for someone else to take over, he said.

One of the vice chancellor's duties is to ensure campus research adheres to government regulations on academic integrity in research, the use of animals and human subjects, and conflicts of interest.

Zukoski said those areas "needed a lot of work" when he took over, mostly because money was scarce.

On his first day on the job, he was met by a Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector who told him the campus was out of compliance, and if the problems weren't fixed he'd shut down all animal research on campus.

"We've done a lot to stabilize it," he said.

Zukoski's decision comes as the UI is about to partner with a government funded institute in Singapore to create an Advanced Digital Science Center to do research on ubiquitous computing.

Zukoski helped set up joint master's and doctoral engineering programs with a university in Singapore and has served on the board of the agency involved in the latest project. He said he will likely take a sabbatical leave to spend time in Singapore next year. He said any potential conflicts of interest have been addressed and were not a factor in his decision to step down.

"It was time to take on new things that I wanted to spend time on," he said.

Zukoski said he's leaving with mixed emotions but feels the time is right. The career path for most vice chancellors for research involves taking a job as dean, provost or chancellor of another university, he said, and he is in "no hurry to leave Champaign-Urbana."

"I admit that it's been pretty emotional for me," he said. "It's hard to say it's time to move on."

He plans to continue teaching in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and looks forward to spending more time with graduate students in his research group.

Before his current post, Zukoski was head of his department. He joined the UI faculty in 1985 and spent his entire academic career there, other than teaching applied mathematics at the University of Melbourne, Australia, during a 1992 sabbatical leave.

He has been a professor in chemical engineering, bioengineering, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory in the College of Engineering and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Searches are also under way at the UI for new deans at the College of Law, Graduate College, College of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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