UPDATE: Seidel headlines UI shakeup

 

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URBANA — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen said Monday that a new executive vice president could be named within weeks, a "second in command" who could stand in for him and advocate on behalf of the university.

The unusual timetable is part of a reshuffling of the UIs’s top administrative positions during Killeen’s second year on the job.

He announced plans Monday to change the titles and emphasis of two vice presidents, and also named the director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Edward Seidel, as interim vice president for research.

"I wouldn’t call it a massive restructuring, or a major restructuring," Killeen said, but they will be different positions going forward.

Seidel takes over for Lawrence Schook, a biomedical researcher who announced last spring that he would step down as vice president after more than five years to return to his research. Seidel will assume office Sept. 1, pending approval by UI trustees, and serve until a replacement is found through a national search.

Killeen said the position will be restructured to focus on promoting research to help drive the state’s economy and will be titled "vice president for economic development and innovation."

The vice president for academic affairs will be retooled as a "second in command" position under Killeen, retitled as the "executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs." It will retain the current duties as the UI system’s senior academic officer while adding responsibilities as senior operating officer, which will include coordinating planning and budgeting across the UI system.

The current vice president for academic affairs, Christophe Pierre, announced in June that he would resign later this month to accept a position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology.

An internal search to fill that position was launched last month, assisted by a committee chaired by

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.

Killeen said the UI’s "strategic framework" called for more empowerment of the three campuses in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield, now known as separate universities under one system. With that change, the system itself "needs to have a greater visibility than it’s had perhaps in the past, with a stronger presence in agencies and national bodies."

"I certainly have felt the need for a second in command, so it’s clear where the authority rests when I’m out of the office, somebody who could stand in for me when needed and could also be a spokesperson on the national stage for public higher education," Killeen said.

He said there’s support for the idea in the University Senates Conference, a faculty advisory group.

Killeen: Internal interest

An external search could have taken months, he said, and someone coming in from the outside would have needed time to get up to speed.

"Right now, given the budget situation in particular, the freshness of the strategic framework, I felt that we should look inside at first, at least, and see if we can attract someone," he said. "There are so many issues that are right at hand, that detailed knowledge and understanding of our university would be a good asset."

Killeen said he hopes to name someone to the position "within a matter of weeks," though he hasn’t seen a short list of candidates yet. He said he doesn’t have anyone in mind for the position.

"I know for a fact that there are multiple candidates interested," he said.

Before 2011, the research post was known as vice president for technology and economic development. Former President Michael Hogan restructured it to include research, in part to facilitate research collaboration among the three campuses and eliminate redundancies. But faculty members objected that it would diminish the autonomy of the campuses to manage research, a core mission of the university.

The search for Schook’s permanent replacement will be led by Peter Pfanner, a research professor of urology and director of the Innovation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Seidel, 58, NCSA director since 2013, will retain that title while he holds the interim vice president position. He currently earns $327,277 a year and will earn a monthly stipend of $3,750 as interim vice president, or $45,000 annually.

William Gropp will assume the role of acting NCSA director pending trustee approval. Gropp, who joined the faculty in 2007, holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science and is director of the Parallel Computing Institute in the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

Seidel ‘a leading light’

Seidel is an acclaimed researcher in high-performance computing and relativity and astrophysics and a professor in the departments of physics and astronomy. He has worked to strengthen NCSA’s research and economic development portfolio by developing new partnerships with academic units and outside companies.

Killeen said Seidel’s long career as an administrator and award-winning researcher makes him an ideal choice. The two have worked together over the past year and at the National Science Foundation, where Seidel directed the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and served as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

"I’ve seen him working at the national level and being sort of a leading light in computational cyber infrastructure for the country. I have no doubt he’ll bring many assets to the table, and I’m looking forward to working with him," Killeen said.

Seidel was a senior research scientist leading the numerical relativity group at NCSA from 1991 to 1996. Before returning to NCSA in 2013, he was senior vice president for research and innovation at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, directed the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and served as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at NSF, and led the Center for Computation & Technology at Louisiana State University. He also led the numerical relativity group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Germany.

Original story, 10:15 a.m.:

URBANA — The University of Illinois today named an interim vice president for research and announced plans to restructure two of its top administrative positions, with a new "second in command" post.

Edward Seidel, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, was named interim vice president for research to succeed Lawrence Schook, a biomedical researcher who announced last spring that he would step down after more than five years to return to his research. Seidel will assume office Sept. 1, pending approval from UI trustees.

UI President Tim Killeen said the position will be restructured to sharpen the focus on promoting research to help drive the state’s economy and will be titled "vice president for economic development and innovation," to reflect the UI’s mission to facilitate economic growth.

And the vice president for academic affairs will be retooled as a "second in command" position under Killeen, retitled as the "executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs." It will retain the current duties as the UI system’s senior academic officer while adding responsibilities as senior operating officer, which will include coordinating planning and budgeting across the system.

The current vice president for academic affairs, Christophe Pierre, announced in June that he would resign later this month to accept a position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology.

An internal search to fill that position was launched last month, assisted by a committee chaired by UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. 

Seidel, 58, will serve as interim vice president for research during a national search for a permanent replacement.

A search advisory committee will be led by Peter Pfanner, a research professor of urology and director of the Innovation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Killeen said Seidel’s long career as an administrator and award-winning researcher makes him an ideal choice. He has worked closely with Seidel at the UI and in past years at the National Science Foundation, where Seidel directed the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and served as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

"Through both experiences, I gained a great appreciation for his broad vision and his ability to build effective interdisciplinary research teams and partnerships," Killeen said in a release Monday morning.

Seidel will retain the title of NCSA director while he holds the interim vice president position. He currently earns $327,277 a year and will earn a monthly stipend of $3,750 as interim vice president, or $45,000, annually.

"I am honored to be asked by President Killeen to work with the entire University of Illinois System to further enhance its research and economic development portfolio, and to return even more value to the state during the search for a permanent vice president," Seidel said in the release.

William Gropp will assume the role of acting NCSA director, pending trustee approval. Gropp, who joined the Urbana-Champaign faculty in 2007, holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science and is director of the Parallel Computing Institute in the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

Seidel, who has been NCSA director since January 2013, is an acclaimed researcher in high-performance computing and relativity and astrophysics and a professor in the departments of physics and astronomy. He has worked to strengthen its research and economic development portfolio by developing new partnerships with academic units and companies across Illinois and beyond.

He has held other administrative posts, including a stint as a senior research scientist leading the numerical relativity group at NCSA from 1991 to 1996.

Before returning to NCSA in 2013, he was senior vice president for research and innovation at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, directing the Office of Cyberinfrastructure and serving as assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at NSF, and leading the Center for Computation & Technology at Louisiana State University. He also led the numerical relativity group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Germany.

He was among the original co-principal investigators for Blue Waters, a federally funded project that brought one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to the UI.

Killeen had said the vice president's position may be retooled in line with the UI’s new strategic plan, emphasizing economic development and public service and empowering the vice chancellors for research at each campus to do more at the campus level.

Reporter/Columnist

Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).

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