UI trustees to appoint committee on Easter successor

UI trustees to appoint committee on Easter successor

Members of a committee that will play a major role in choosing the next University of Illinois president will be appointed on Good Friday.

Who should it be? Let Tom Kacich know here

University of Illinois trustees have scheduled a special meeting at noon Friday in Chicago to appoint the 19-member presidential search committee, approve its formal duties and discuss a possible supplemental retirement plan for UI employees.

No action is expected on the pension front; administrators plan a general update for trustees, said university spokesman Tom Hardy.

UI President Robert Easter plans to retire in July 2015, and trustees want to name his successor by January.

The board in March approved a format for the search committee and planned to appoint members at the May 14 board meeting.

But Hardy said the board didn't want to wait that long for the committee to get started.

"I think they want to get the ball rolling with the search before the end of the academic year, when people start to have other commitments," he said Wednesday.

The 19-member committee will include three trustees, eight faculty members from the three campuses, one student from each campus, one academic professional, one civil service staff member, one administrative officer, one member from the UI Alumni Association and one member from the UI Foundation.

The list of appointees hadn't been finalized as of Wednesday afternoon, Hardy said.

Academic senates from each campus nominated faculty members for the panel, including six from the Urbana campus: Douglas Beck, professor of physics, who chaired the search committee that led to the hiring of Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise; Jeffrey Brown, professor of finance and member of a universitywide committee studying the pension issue; Nicholas Burbules, professor of educational policy, organization and leadership and former chair of the Urbana campus senate; Roy Campbell, professor of computer science and current chair of the campus senate; Kim Graber, professor of kinesiology and community health and vice-chair of the campus senate; and Matt Wheeler, professor of animal science, former campus senate chair and member of the University Senates Conference. Three will be chosen for the search committee.

Burbules and Campbell were involved in exposing now-infamous anonymous emails sent to University Senates Conference members in 2012 by Lisa Troyer, then chief of staff to then-UI President Michael Hogan. The controversy over the emails, in which Troyer posed as a faculty member of the conference, ultimately led to Hogan's resignation a few months later.

Trustees will make the final decision on the next president, but they will rely much more heavily on faculty input than during the last presidential search that led to Hogan's hiring, board Chairman Chris Kennedy has said. Kennedy said faculty can do a better job of recruiting people "not on anyone's radar" and get more immediate feedback from colleagues around the country.

The search committee's duties will include developing job qualifications and expectations for the new president, and identifying and screening potential candidates.

An executive search firm will also be hired, but its role will be more collaborative.

In the Hogan search, the consulting firm of Isaacson, Miller of Boston had the responsibility for generating the initial list of candidates. Strobel chaired the search committee and dealt directly with the lead consultant from Isaacson, Miller. The faculty vice chairwoman, UI Professor May Berenbaum, had no direct contact with the firm. She and others felt the level of secrecy surrounding the search hampered the panel's ability to vet applicants for the job.

The search committee that led to Wise's hiring, chaired by Beck, had a much stronger role in those initial stages, though Isaacson, Miller assisted with the search.

Kennedy at one time defended the use of search firms as "critical" in recruiting candidates for senior administrative posts because they can contact candidates more discreetly and "they know where the talent is."

But in January he said the board had learned with the chancellor's search that working through the faculty yielded better results.

Easter became the UI's 19th president on July 1, 2012, succeeding Hogan after 36 years as a faculty member, dean, provost and chancellor on the Urbana campus.

During Friday's retirement discussion, Hardy said administrators will brief trustees on plans under consideration for a supplemental retirement plan drafted in response to legislation that will reduce pension benefits for university employees. The options include a university contribution to a tax-deferred 403(b) retirement account and encouraging employees to make contributions of their own. Officials also are exploring options for employees who will be affected by salary caps outlined in the legislation.

The meeting will be available via videoconference at Room 364 Henry Administration Building, 506 S. Wright St., U.

Also nominated for the search committee:

UI Springfield (two to be chosen)

Scott Day, associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership

Sharon Graf, associate professor of ethnomusicology

Holly Thompson, associate professor of human development counseling

Jorge Villegas, associate professor and chair of business administration; current chair of University Senates Conference

UI Chicago (three to be chosen)

Larry Danziger, professor of pharmacy

Robin Mermelstein, professor of psychology

Victoria Persky, professor of epidemiology

Barbara Ransby, professor of African-American studies and history

Barbara Risman, professor and head of the Department of Sociology

Julie Zerwic, executive associate dean and professor, Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences

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