URBANA — The longtime director of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs plans to retire later this summer.
Robert Rich, director of IGPA from 1986 to 1997 and then again from 2005 until now, said he will retire Aug. 31, for personal, family reasons. He declined to elaborate further.
An interim director is expected to be named in the near future and a search for a new director launched soon, according to an internal email from Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre, whose office oversees the institute.
"We regret the suddenness of this transition and will provide guidance for the change in IGPA leadership in the coming weeks," Pierre wrote in a recent message to staff.
Rich, 63, writes and conducts research in the areas of health law and policy, energy policy, science policy, federalism, and leadership and public service. Rich also holds joint faculty appointments in the Political Science Department, the College of Law and the College of Medicine.
Charles Evans, associate vice president for academic affairs, said Rich will work on budget and personnel issues through the end of August.
"It's a dynamic, productive group of faculty over there, and his leadership will truly be missed," Evans said.
Rich is credited with establishing and serving as director of the institute's Office of Public Leadership, which offers educational programs to elected and non-elected local government officials. Prior to the UI, he was a faculty member at the University of Michigan, Princeton University and Carnegie-Mellon University.
Rich said he plans to focus his time in retirement on writing and research projects and delivering lectures. The focus of a current book he is writing takes a look at public learning.
"It's about how fundamental beliefs and attitudes change in society and are translated into laws, policies and even into the popular culture," he said on Tuesday. One chapter looks at tobacco and others delve into AIDS, childhood obesity and needle-exchange programs.
In his message to staff, Pierre thanked Rich "for his loyal commitment to the IGPA over the past many years and for the numerous positive changes that have resulted from his leadership."
Established in 1947, the Institute for Government and Public Affairs is a public policy research center that grew out of a report by a state commission that looked at improving the conduct of government, Rich said. The commission recommended the UI create this institute, he said.
"I think the institute has become a non-partisan-based voice in Illinois for matters of critical issues facing the state and region. We've become known for our research and public engagement, something I'm very proud of," Rich said.
In recent decades, the staff has grown and the institute now includes offices on UI campuses in Chicago and Springfield.
The administrative staff includes five or six individuals, a research staff of around 40 and about 24 faculty, according to Rich.