URBANA — The three finalists for provost, including two from Urbana, have been announced, and all three will participate in public forums on the University of Illinois campus beginning next week.
The candidates include two current administrators on the Urbana campus: Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the College of Engineering. The third candidate is Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and associate dean for research in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This will be the first time the campus will hold public forums with candidates for the position of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, according to Urbana campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler. UI faculty, staff and students will be able to hear from each candidate and ask questions of them. In previous hirings of top campus administrators, the names of final candidates had been kept secret.
"The provost is the chief academic officer and budgetary officer who will be dealing with deans and faculty day in and day out. I thought it was really important for faculty and students and staff to have the opportunity to meet the person," said Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise. When Wise interviewed as provost at the University of Washington, she also attended a public forum, she said.
The provost, who also is vice chancellor for academic affairs, reports directly to the vice president and chancellor and is second in command on the campus. The provost works with the chancellor on budget planning and management, strategic planning and more. Deans of the colleges, schools and the libraries report to the provost.
At the upcoming forums, candidates will be allowed to make a relatively short statement on why they're interested in the position, and then the event will be open to questions, Wise said. The forums will be about an hour long.
The forum with Gamoran will be at 1:30 p.m. March 29 in the Knight Auditorium of Spurlock Museum.
The forum with Ruth Watkins will be at 1:30 p.m. April 3 in the Deloitte Auditorium of the Business Instructional Facility.
And the forum with Ilesanmi Adesida will be at 1:30 p.m. April 5 in the Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.
Similar public forums with candidates for the position of vice chancellor of research were held recently on campus. Those candidates include Mark Banaszak Holl, associate vice president for research, natural sciences and engineering and professor of chemistry and biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan; Michael Pazzani, vice president of research and graduate and professional education and professor of computer science at Rutgers University; and Peter Schiffer, senior vice president for research and director, strategic initiatives, and professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University.
After the forums, the provost search committee, chaired by Dean and University Librarian Paula Kaufman, will assess and review how the forums went, then meet with Wise, she said. The search committee has already met the candidates, Wise said.
"I like to listen to what they feel are the strengths and challenges of the candidates," she said.
Candidates also will meet one-on-one with Wise.
The chancellor will then make a decision; she has not set a date for when it will be made.
"It's important to take as much time as we need to be sure we really make the right choice. This is a professional marriage between me and the provost. We work very closely together," Wise said.
The next provost will replace Richard Wheeler, who has been in that position on an interim basis for over two years. He was appointed when then-interim provost Robert Easter was asked to be interim chancellor following Richard Herman's resignation as chancellor. Easter, a former dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, was acting as interim provost after Linda Katehi left for the University of California-Davis. Wheeler, an English professor, previously was dean of the Graduate College.
The provost search began in mid-December with the establishment of the search committee and the position announcement. The application deadline was Feb. 15. The university hired Parker Executive Search of Atlanta to help with the search; Parker also is managing the search for a new basketball coach.
Wheeler did not apply for the job, and on Wednesday he said he is still thinking about what his plans will be once the new provost is named.
More information about the position and the candidates can be found at http://oc.illinois.edu/oc/provost_search.html .