U of I president resigns, board to name long-time U of I leader Robert Easter as successor

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — University of Illinois President Michael J. Hogan has submitted his resignation to the Board of Trustees, and Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy has accepted it on behalf of the Board, the University announced Thursday, March 22.

Friday, March 23, the Executive Committee of the Board will meet to approve the terms of Hogan’s resignation and to appoint Robert Easter, a long-time faculty member and former interim provost and interim chancellor on the Urbana-Champaign campus, as president-designate. The full board is expected to ratify the change at its next regular meeting May 31 in Chicago.

Kennedy said Hogan has done a commendable job since joining the University in July 2010, especially in addressing a fiscal crisis caused by the national economic recession, in recruiting outstanding new senior leadership, and in implementing organizational reforms and changes the university needed, Kennedy said.

This university needed an experienced and reform-minded educational leader to carry out an exhaustive mandate of change with necessary urgency,” said Kennedy, U. of I. Board chairman since 2009. “The university owes Mike Hogan a debt of gratitude for moving a number of tough, and sometimes unpopular, initiatives forward at a time of significant financial constraint, and on the heels of controversy around University admission practices. We thank him for his hard work, perseverance and achievement.”

Hogan will serve as president until July 1, working on a smooth transition with Easter, who will become the university’s 19th president. Hogan, a noted historian, will remain with the university as a tenured faculty member.

It has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve as president of the University of Illinois,” Hogan said. “While the university has faced some significant organizational and budgetary challenges over the past several years, we have initiated the reforms necessary to modernize and streamline our business functions and redirect the savings to academic purposes. The underpinnings of this great institution are sound.”

Easter is a familiar and highly regarded figure within the university, particularly on the Urbana campus, where he has spent his 36-year career. He started as a doctoral student, then a faculty member in animal sciences, specializing in swine nutrition and management.

Easter was dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences for seven years before becoming interim campus provost in July 2009. He served as interim chancellor of the Urbana campus for two years until last Sept. 30, and since January 2012, he has been its interim vice chancellor for research while a search is under way for a permanent appointee to the job.

We are fortunate to have in Bob a proven administrator with a long track record of collaboration and success within our university system,” Kennedy said. “Bob comes into this role with the trust of alumni and trustees past and present, as well as faculty, researchers and administrators, staff and, always, the best interest of students at heart. We are grateful for his loyal commitment to this institution, and look forward to excellence, innovation and achievement under his watch.”

Easter said he is honored and humbled by the appointment, and will “move forward energetically and collaboratively with an agenda that reaffirms the University of Illinois’ special place among the very best of institutions of higher learning in the United States.”

Easter’s selection represents an example of collegiality between faculty and university leadership, said Don Chambers, chairman of the University Senates Conference, which represents faculty on the University’s three campuses in the shared governance process.

Chambers, a University of Illinois at Chicago biology professor, said: “The trustees’ decision to select Dr. Easter reflects the best aspects of shared governance. The faculty senates leadership was pleased to have been consulted before a decision was made, and that their views were embraced.

In Bob Easter, we have a new leader but an old friend who knows this university inside and out, and is respected by everyone throughout the university community,” Chambers said. “He is a leader with vision and passion, while also a good listener who will cultivate the best ideas across campuses to move our great university forward. President Hogan did many laudable things, including making excellent appointments. We wish him well.”

A schedule of activities welcoming the new president will be announced in the coming weeks.

The University of Illinois is the largest educational institution in the state with more than 76,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 19,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

Posted March 23, 2012

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