UI trustees formally hire chancellor, vice presidents, athletic director

UI trustees formally hire chancellor, vice presidents, athletic director

URBANA — In a series of unanimous votes, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees hired a chancellor, an athletic director and two vice presidents, as well as approving a budget that tops $5 billion by another $11 million.

The trustees welcomed Mike Thomas, the new athletic director, but Phyllis Wise, the Urbana campus' new chancellor, wasn't at Friday's meeting. She will address the academic senate at 3:10 p.m. Monday in the Levis Center.

The two new vice presidents are Christophe Pierre, in charge of academic affairs, and Lawrence B. Schook, who heads up research university-wide.

The $5 billion fiscal year 2012 budget for all three campuses is a 5 percent increase from fiscal 2011.

Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy noted that, with the state $314 million behind in reimbursements, the UI "couldn't manage its academic mission" without an increasing reliance on tuition dollars.

The budget represents a $109.8 million (5.9 percent) increase in unrestricted funds, a $139.9 million (4.8 percent) increase in restricted funds, and a $249.7 million (5.2 percent) increase in all operating funds from fiscal year 2011.

It was the last trustees meeting for interim Chancellor Robert Easter.

Trustee Ed McMillan read a resolution telling Easter he would be "remembered for your decisive and unifying leadership. You conducted the most thorough self-examination of the Urbana campus in modern times under the Stewarding Excellence@Illinois program, leading to permanent and crucial cost-cutting and efficiency measures."

Easter left the campus in better shape than when he took over its leadership, McMillan recounted.

Easter, who continues as a soybean expert and also as an adviser to Wise, admonished the trustees for making such a fuss over him.

The 38-year veteran of Urbana said the UI should anticipate the technological needs of education in the future. He noted that several Urbana dormitories have new air-conditioning and that police and security presence has been enhanced after some safety scares.

He called Chemistry Annex "extremely antiquated," as well as the Mechanical Engineering Building, both of which need to be renovated. The largest part of the UI's capital spending request is for renovation.

He also said a lecture room in Huff Hall has asbestos and water infiltration, and doesn't meet fire codes.

"It has bothered me for some time that our students come from high schools" with, in some cases, more up-to-date facilities than they find in Urbana.

The meeting was otherwise mostly quiet, especially since more than half of it was conducted in executive session. There was a one-hour closed session in the morning and a three-hour closed session in the afternoon.

Just before 5:30 p.m., Kennedy told a dwindling crowd of observers that they could go home, because the board was going into a third closed session, and after that would take no public action.