Updated: Phyllis Wise to resign as UI chancellor, effective next week

Updated: Phyllis Wise to resign as UI chancellor, effective next week

What legacy does Phyllis Wise leave as chancellor? Please share your opinion.

URBANA — University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise has resigned, the UI announced Thursday afternoon.

She plans to return to the faculty effective Aug. 12, though her contract allows her to take a year of sabbatical leave.

The news comes less than three weeks before the start of fall semester classes at the UI, on Aug. 24.

Wise made the announcement in a statement issued by the University Office of Public Affairs.

“During the last four years, I have worked with an extraordinary team to realize our vision to be ‘the pre-eminent public research university with a land-grant mission and global impact.’ We have accomplished a great deal,” she said, citing creation of the new engineering-based College of Medicine.

“Yet, external issues have arisen over the past year that have distracted us from the important tasks at hand. I have concluded that these issues are diverting much needed energy and attention from our goals. I therefore believe the time is right for me to step aside. I will resign from the chancellor’s position effective August 12, 2015, and will resume my role as a member of the faculty. I look forward to rededicating my efforts to teaching, research and service,” Wise said.

“I would like to reiterate my commitment to this University and its role as a world-class educational institution. I have valued my time as chancellor and wish to express my deep gratitude to the many colleagues and friends who have been so essential to everything we have accomplished during my tenure.”

The chancellor’s office said Wise would be out of the office for the next week and unavailable for comment.

UI President Timothy Killeen accepted her resignation and thanked Wise for her "excellent service," according to the UI release.

Killeen was out of the office and unavailable for comment Thursday, said spokesman Tom Hardy.

Hardy referred questions about the timing and motivation for Wise's resignation to her prepared statement.

Asked if Killeen asked Wise to step down, Hardy said, "I don't have an answer for that."

Killeen said he would select an interim chancellor to serve until a search for a permanent chancellor is completed. He said he would name an interim chancellor "within the next week."

“I anticipate a smooth transition in leadership and dedicate myself to working closely with internal and external stakeholder groups—faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and community leaders—during the process,” Killeen said in the statement.

“Chancellor Wise’s energy and commitment to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have never flagged. In addition to other accomplishments too numerous to list, her vision and advocacy for a new College of Medicine represents a major contribution and provides for a lasting legacy,” Killeen said.

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Bulldogmojo wrote on August 06, 2015 at 3:08 pm


Handed her hat and good riddence...

Let me guess she's going to keep her corporate board appointments...

Shove off Wise!

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 06, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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Thewitchisdead wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm


Sid Saltfork wrote on August 06, 2015 at 7:08 pm


TyroneHogglegg wrote on August 07, 2015 at 8:08 am

Can I please get an "auto-disagree" with everything he says please? Thanks in advance...

Lostinspace wrote on August 06, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Let's not kick her when she's down.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm


She won't feel the kicking with her pockets lined with the millions of dollars she's made here.

Objective Reporter wrote on August 06, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Well said, Lostinspace, but this pack of wolves will jump all over this and, most likely, provide no constructive ideas on moving forward.  When the new chancellor is named, they'll whine and cry some more.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm


If the next one is anything at all like Wise, Hogan, Troyer, White, Herman. Yeah we'll come at them like wolves alright, GET READY

nateo wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. It would have been more fitting if we didn't have to pay for her golden, tenured-professor parachute.

Rocky7 wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

It is not uncommon that when a new university president arrives, administrative turnover and changes occur, so Dr, Wise's resignation is not a surprise,  UIUC aready appointed three new deans since Dr. Killeen arrived.

However, one week's "notice" is troublesome and time wil tell if there is more involved.  Moreover, the next permanent chancellor may be no better than the one being replaced.

Thus, be careful what one wishes for.

nateo wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Don't be naïve. Oh, and please read her statement.

Rustydude wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

How come every backwater state university/college has to be deemed "world class" or "pre-eminent"?

- graduate of 2 different backwater state-funded universities

Thewitchisdead wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Swoosh. Now go back to Nike and stop embarrassing the university. No coincidence, a storm is coming that shows that she lied. the university is bleeding and it's her own fault. Very excited to see the rest of the proceedings reveal her lies and a victory for Salaita and academic freedom. 

wayward wrote on August 06, 2015 at 4:08 pm

I think that Wise has overall done a good job, but she's had to deal with a lot of problems that she didn't create.  While looking at a large number of her emails that someone had FOIA'd, I wondered how much sleep she got -- she seemed to be going from early morning to late night.  Any possibility that she's just tired of everything and genuinely wants to get back to her research?

Thewitchisdead wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Yeah, that's probably it...

BruckJr wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Can Mike Thomas be far behind?

Duce20 wrote on August 06, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Why? On unfounded allegations? 

88illiniwek wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Wise brought on Thomas. Thomas' department is a mess. Killeen will not tolerate his mediocrity and lack of control.  Thomas is next out the door.

wayward wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

It seems like Thomas assumed that it would be easy to replace Zook, Weber, and Law with top coaches that would quickly turn the programs around.  It didn't quite work out that way.  I do wonder if some of the problems in the athletic department reflect the extreme pressure to win in the major NCAA D1 sports -- that in itself seems insane.

wayward wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

The Salaita case is basically "bad hire" + "flawed hiring process" = "no-win situation."  No matter what happens with that situation, a lot of people are going to be very upset.

andrewscheinman wrote on August 06, 2015 at 5:08 pm

What will be interesting is to see whether Wise joins the Carle/UIUC enterprise ... given that she's on the board of Busey bank and met with Carle's CEO Jim Leonard for over a year of planning on the med center, wouldn't be remotely surprising if she ends up in some position heading that thing up ...

And of course, you can't FOIA Carle, which I'm sure she'd find a most appealing prospect.

BTW, don't take any of that as a personal attack on her; her actions were certainly remiss in some instances, but par for the course for what administrators do these day in universities.

I suppose the other question is whether Salaita did her in, or was it the athletic scandals?  Obiously althletics is far more important that academics ...

Andrew Scheinman

wayward wrote on August 06, 2015 at 6:08 pm

She's apparently getting a bonus:


Reading between the lines, maybe it wasn't completely voluntary?

InTheMorningCU wrote on August 06, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Due to the state budget issues, the University's 2015-2016 salary program has been deferred; no wage increases, and this "salary program deferral applies to all personnel regardless of the funding line for the appointment", says Tim Killeen. Unless you're Phyllis Wise, running out the door; then you get an extra $400k. Screw the rest of us, I'm just happy that Phyllis will be able to put food on her family's table. 

TyroneHogglegg wrote on August 07, 2015 at 8:08 am

Yes, thank goodness, she will be able to feed her family and pay the rent on time...and even with the planned salary deferral, which, will of course, turn into just another year with out increases...I am so glad President Kileen was able to keep his chauffer employed...and the limo maintenance costs and gas consumption will bring added jobs to Champaign county as well. 

jjohnson wrote on August 06, 2015 at 7:08 pm

I have no idea who any of these commentaries are, especially ante, but all hide behind aliases and "ante's" comments in particular are classless, whereas whether or not one agreed with Phyllis Wise, she embodied more class in her finger tips than many of these commentaries.I will not hide: John A. Johnson, Eng. '64, M.S. Physics '65, Tucson, Arizona 

Duce20 wrote on August 06, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Good call John.

I don't know how anyone defends professor SS? Pun intended. 

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 07, 2015 at 12:08 pm


Well thanks for the presumption that we are all hiding behind aliases for no good reason. YOU DON"T WORK AT THE UNIVERSITY!!! Whereas I actually work under the umbrella of University administration itself and retaliation is the order of the day up in this stinking rarified air. Who these admins represent themselves to be to the public and who they are in the hallway are two different things.

Yes we all know about your donor history and we thank you but there is a sytemic problem in the vetting of University leadership as history tells us, Herman, White, Hogan, Troyer, Wise et al. You're a physics major, recognizing a pattern in the chaos here?

Do you think it's a coinicidence that her resignation comes on the heels of a judge's ruling only hours earlier advancing Salaita's lawsuit? A lawsuit that will cost this University a ton of cash. 

Maybe you should apply for the Chancellor position, Johnny. At least you went to school here...

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 06, 2015 at 7:08 pm

What a day.  The university's attempt to have the Salaita case dismissed did not work.  Salaita's case continues.  Also, today the chancellor steps down.  She will be on "sabbatical" for the year.  Will she be available for the trial?    

ERE wrote on August 06, 2015 at 8:08 pm
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Salita?? Who needs that racist on this campus, anyway?

Fight racism with racism is an equation that makes no sense-he's too self-absorbed to figure that out.

it's a great school that has challenges and growing pains and evolution pains like any great school....

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 07, 2015 at 12:08 am

There is still the question of donor influence on Salaita's firing.  Racism toward his pro-Palestian stance may have influenced the firing also.

Yes, it is a good school for certain majors that has experienced years, and years of scandals.  It just adds to Illinois poor image.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 07, 2015 at 12:08 pm


Sure ERE Why would Salaita have a right to outraged by this kind of thing UGH setting a baby on fire Vile and disgusting occupiers



spangwurfelt wrote on August 08, 2015 at 9:08 am

Hey, criticize Israel all you want. But when you pivot to calling for violence against them, as Salaita did, then that's not so okay.

David Green wrote on August 08, 2015 at 9:08 am

But killing Palestinian babies is just fine. According to an Israeli cabinet minister, they're "little snakes."

spangwurfelt wrote on August 08, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Once again, Green's having a little dialogue with the voices in his head.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 08, 2015 at 7:08 pm

I agree with Green.  The so-called investigation of the culprits has come up with nothing despite Bibi's press conference referring to them as "terrorists".  The culprits are "baby killers". 

The so-called Israeli investigation of war crimes committed toward civilians including children was white-washed.  When the U.N. indicated that their investigation would continue, Bibi complained that it was not necessary.

The U.S. released the Mossad spy Pollard who was serving his sentence for being a traitor to the U.S.  Bibi never said "Thanks" even though he pressed for the Mossad's spy's release.

Own it instead of defending a foriegn country's excuses for it's crimes.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 08, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Hey, I get it, you hate Israel a lot. Not like that was any kind of secret.

But hating the Israeli government isn't what cost Salaita his gig. It was his open loathing of the Israeli people, the rank and file, not its government, not its military, but its people.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 08, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Israel's people do nothing to stop it's government, and military.  Where was the outrage in Israel over the murder of an 18 month old child?  Where was the outrage over the war crimes Israel committed toward civilians including children in Gaza? 

The U.S. law prohibts persons with dual citizenship from being involved with classified material.  Yet, an exception is made for Israeli-American dual citizens.  If Israel has enough money to influence American elections, Israel does not need the billions in U.S foriegn aid.

You shall reap what you sow.  Let Israel fight the enemies that it has created.  No U.S. troops, or air cover for the sake of Israel.  Until Israel admits it's crimes, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

Now, peddle your Israeli propaganda; but know that Americans' opinion of Israel is changing.

spangwurfelt wrote on August 09, 2015 at 12:08 pm

"Israel's people do nothing to stop it's government, and military."

By this standard, you're guilty of the war in Iraq. After all, you didn't stop it.

But apparently group guilt is a much different thing when you're applying it to your favorite villain.

Just pointing it out, as you seem to be the only one left who doesn't know.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 09, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Yes as an American, I am guilty despite my opposition to going to war in Iraq.  I accept that guilt as an American. 

Which are you?  An American who accepts guilt for the mess in Iraq, or an Israeli who does not accept guilt for Israel's war crimes?  Your comments seem to divorce yourself from American guilt, and defend Israeli war crimes. 

Oh.... I understand now.  You place Israel above the country you live in.  Do your best, but the younger generation does not have the goyim guilt that older generations had.  They see Israel as a "villain".  Better peddle you propaganda to them as quickly as you can because Dr. Salaita is going to win in court now.   

illini82 wrote on August 06, 2015 at 9:08 pm

One down, Mike Thomas to go.

Reykjavik wrote on August 06, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Sad day for UIUC.  She was a highly regarded scholar, an accomplished administrator, and a poised spokesperson. Her track record is one of total devotion the UIUC mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service.   The institution did well under her guidance.  

It is difficult for many people, especially those with little executive experience, to understand the pressures and complexity of the chancellor's position.  


mgd wrote on August 07, 2015 at 12:08 am


From an old lady, 1970-1977,

I liked Peltason.

Mary Gates DeRosier

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 07, 2015 at 2:08 am
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Illini1973 wrote on August 07, 2015 at 5:08 am
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Good riddance from Chief Illiniwek.

Alex M. Mobley wrote on August 07, 2015 at 6:08 am
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The Scheinman FOIAs reveal that Chancellor Wise knew that Salaita's tweets were fully protected speech -- not surprising given her defense of students' free speech when they were personally attacking her for the snow day that did not happen. Her willingness to be Kennedy's executioner regarding the Salaita affair and to defend the decision with stupid "civility" pr, was a very strategic deployment of the first Asian-American Chancellor of a world-class institution. She was also an excellent candidate for bringing the Chief back to a place of honor in the Alumni Center -- much harder to accuse her of being a good old boy. Wouldn't be surprised to see if Jeb Bush picks her to be Secretary of Education.

David Green wrote on August 07, 2015 at 7:08 am

Wise did her job for the 1% and the corporate university, and she did it well. She provided an opaque face to the relentless and ruthless process of converting public universities into private profit centers. She dutifully carried out the execution of academic freedom in the case of Salaita, meanwhile securing the funding that goes along with relationships between American and apartheid Israeli universities. That chilling message has been sent, and its purpose achieved, regardless of the final outcome. Back to her research? Don't make me laugh.

Manscape wrote on August 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Yes. Championing a new medical school that would focus on disruptive bioengineering technologies to improve the future of medicine is so 1%. 

And "securing the funding that goes along with relationships between American and apartheid Israeli universities"...you must be a hoot at parties/at the family dinner table, am I right?

David Green wrote on August 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

We have a crappy healthcare system for a developed country because it's a for-profit system that benefits the 1%. No hype about bioengineering changes that in any conceivable way, and is more likely to reinforce that structure. BTW, have you heard about advanced surveillance technology, weaponry, and crowd control methods that are shared between Israel and the U.S.? Perhaps you might like to bring the topic up at your next dinner party.

Bulldogmojo wrote on August 07, 2015 at 8:08 am


OH and of course she is getting a $400,000 bonus to cushion the blow of transition to her guaranteed tenure teaching job after she takes a one year sabatical to "get ready" for this future shakedown of the payroll. 


The thousands of staff who haven't had contracts in a year and being threatened with no raises for 4 years and a 500 % increase in health care costs will just have to accept the University's claim they have no money.


Illiniwek222 wrote on August 07, 2015 at 12:08 pm

She was wrong on the Chief, but right on Salaita.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 07, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Was the Chief fired by a foriegn country's supporters?  Seems odd that a mascot impersonating a Native American is revered; but an individual critical of Israel's atrocities is hated.

kagni wrote on August 07, 2015 at 1:08 pm

The Chancellor stood for the principle, against hate speech. She will be able to sleep at night. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 07, 2015 at 3:08 pm

She stood for "paid" principles which did not include free speech.  She will sleep fine on goose down pillows, and mattreses even with a pea under them.  She can afford them.

Only in academia is failure rewarded.

Anonymous71 wrote on August 07, 2015 at 4:08 pm

You mean all of those golden parachutes in the private sector dont exist? For example, the CEO of Merill Lynch who walked away with 161 million dollars during the mortgage crisis - at a time when the company lost billions.

Looks like failure is rewarded in the private sector too...


Sid Saltfork wrote on August 08, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Yes, but they are not employed in the public sector.  The citizens are sick of politicians, school superintendents, and university administrators getting golden parachutes.  That is unethical, but the university does not understand ethics as recently demonstrated. 

Tom Napier wrote on August 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Many of the comments above refer to "donor influence" and "corporate university," implying that any advocacy that does not originate within the university's academic sanctuary is outside influence and is therefore categorically bad. Steven Salaita openly wishes for genocide; targeting a defined group of human beings to go missing, as he says. That some donors objected to the University of Illinois associating with this person is, by this logic, A Bad Thing. Consider a person in a similar position to Salaita's advocating for the African American community to go missing. Consider the backlash among research sponsors, governmental organizations, sponsors of arts programs, donors, alumni, and other financial supporters. Those who whine about "donor influence" would most certainly march in solidarity with those who oppose similar genocidal proclamations. Consider, then, the forces that ousted Chief Illiniwek. These include the individuals who manipulated admissions practices, capitulating to political influence peddlers; remember Clout? These include the individuals who held the UI's purse strings as tools to force their own agenda; remember Emil Jones? These include blackmailers; remember Miles Brand and the NCAA? These include individuals who violated State of Illinois open meeting laws to retire the Chief without public debate; remember Lawrence Eppley? And yet this outside influence and absence of transparency was welcome by the same individuals who condemn expression of opinion by those objecting to the Salaita appointment. The stench of hypocrisy is nauseating. Upon the Chief's retirement, I said the University of Illinois would now be subject to pressure by outside influences that have some agenda to push or ax to grind, and that actions would be based not on due deliberation, institutional integrity, and common sense, but on expediency and capitulation to those who whine the loudest or possess tightest hold on the purse strings. The university would be pulled in all directions to ever increasing amplitudes as the volume of the whining increased. The Free Speech advocates observe the policy that free speech is great, but only when they agree with it; that hate speech is welcome but only if it's directed to what they themselves hate. It's happened. The inmates are running the asylum. I was never a big fan of Phyllis Wise. She did much good and may have done much bad. But I don't blame her a bit for bailing out of this mess. I'm sure she's saying good riddance to the UI just as much as the "wolves" commenting above are to her. As another UI student in the '70s, I've often mused "where's Jack Peltason when you need him?" Knowing where he is now, I glad he's far away from the hellish administrative environment now corroding the University of Illinois .

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 11, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Good long piece comparing the Chief to an anti-Israeli professor.  Good piece of propaganda.

I remain confused why a mascot impersonating a Native American is revered while an opponent of a foriegn country's atrocities is hated.

Tom Napier wrote on August 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm

I made no comparison of Chief Illiniwek to Steven Salaita. I suggest you've read things between the lines things that aren't actually there. A careful reader would see that I remarked about outside influence and free speech at the University of Illinois, which is central to the Wise controversy. I said there is a certain cadre within the university that welcomes outside influence when it suites their purpose but condemns it when it doesn't; dogmatically invokes free speech when it suites their purpose but battles to suppress it when it doesn't. Indeed, there is no comparison between Chief Illiniwek and Steven Salaita. Good Lord, there's no comparison. You describe my comment as propaganda. Mirriam-Webster offers three definitions of the word (the first refers to a Roman Catholic curia which is a totally different context and use), "2: The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person," and "3: Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect." These definitions, by their strictest interpretation, apply equally to both of us. That said, I come nowhere near approaching the more common negative connotations of the word, Joseph Goebbles demonization of Jews for instance. I do, however, find it interesting you think I'm engaging in propaganda while you, by implication at least, are not. This is very telling. You're confused why an opponent of a foreign country's atrocities is hated. Salaita opponents have stated many, many, many times the issue isn't his opposition to Israeli policies and actions. It's his desire that harm to be inflicted upon a defined group of human beings. If he said he hopes they all leave Palestinian territories, or the Israeli government should remove settlements, that would be fine. But he didn't. He wants Israelis, human beings, to "go missing" which means either be killed or never heard from again. If anyone would say they hope all Palestinians would "go missing" they would deserve the same rebuke. Remember, freedom of speech does not include yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. Controversy is fine. Racism and hate speech aren't. And remember too, Salaita is supposed to be a professor of English. He certainly should understand the impact of the words he selected. If he doesn't, he's not as good as he thinks he is. If he does, he endorses the very same atrocities of which he (and you) accuse Israel. Also, you might respond to my scenario about African Americans "going missing" instead of simply ignoring it. You're confused about why a student portraying Chief Illiniwek is revered. There are many explanations, and I'm sure you'll disagree with all of them. But I'll offer one. The vast majority within the University of Illinois community does not attribute inferior or negative characteristics to Native Americans (i.e. the definition of racism) because of the Chief. Chief supporters are every bit as concerned about Native Americans' well being as are Chief opponents. They just aren't as militant; they're more measured in their support than the opponents are in their opposition. I can also relate several discussions with Native Americans who support the Chief and consider him a worthy representative of the University of Illinois. Opposition to the Chief is far from absolute, as opponents ... propaganda ... claim it is. My turn. I'm confused about why those who dogmatically reject a non-Native's portrayal of Chief Illiniwek are comfortable with straight actors portraying gays on TV and movies (and vice-versa), lay actors portraying religious vocations, people who have fled the US to avoid the draft portraying military heroes in war movies, Black men portraying White girls in comedy movies, Jewish singers releasing Christmas records, non-Eastern-Mediterranean students portraying a Trojan, non-Greek students portraying a Spartan, non-Native students portraying Chief Osceloa or The Aztec Warrior, non-Irish students portraying a leprauchan, and so forth. I'm confused why the name Tar Heel is still allowed, referring to Confederate soldiers from North Carolina defending slavery, or the name Sooners, referring the land rush that displaced Native Americans from their lands in Oklahoma. Get my point? If not, I can continue.

David Green wrote on August 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Tom, it's not a serious argument, and I think you know it, to claim that Salaita wants harm to come to anyone. He wrote out of anger in the midst of one of Israel's regular and very real massacres of Palestinian civilians. He wrote about settlers "going missing" as a way of saying they should leave the occupied territories and go back to Israel proper. The anti-semitism card doesn't work anymore, even among Jews (like me). Tom, you might like to take a look around the Middle East sometime, and note the havoc wreaked largely as a result to U.S. support for jihadist forces against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (1970s, that led directly to 9/11); our devastating invasion, sanction, invasion again against Iraq--none of which had to happen in order to "control" Saddam (that led directly to 9/11); and the results of all that in terms of ISIS. Add in our support for ongoing Israeli atrocities (that also provoked 9/11), and stir. Please stop exploiting historical Jewish suffering in order to promote your political agenda; although for the life of me your agenda is so incoherent I have no clue as to what it is. How about at least getting an agenda other than the racist mascot so as to at least give people a decent shot at understanding what you actually believe.