Sharing some sad news today
May 1, 2023 1:02 PM

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

It is with great sorrow that I write to tell you that University of Illinois Alumni Association President Jen Dillavou passed away this weekend following a tenacious fight with cancer. She was at home, surrounded by family and friends. Our thoughts are with her husband, Tom, and her two sons, Jake and Max, in these sad days.

Jen joined the UIAA as its president in 2017, but her connections to this university – and to this entire community – began long before. She grew up right here in Champaign and earned her undergraduate degree from our College of Education in 1982. And she began a career in higher education with our own University of Illinois Foundation. While Jen’s career led her on a journey that included leadership roles at Indiana University, Georgia State, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio University, anyone who knew Jen will tell you it was only a matter of time until her heart was going to bring her home to Illinois.

As the first woman to serve as the permanent president of the UIAA, Jen was breaking new ground from the moment she returned. For the six years we worked together, Jen was a tireless advocate for our university’s missions. And I can tell you that I have met no individual who took a greater joy in watching the new class of graduates who joined our global alumni family each May than her.

I write this message to honor Jen’s professional service and achievement as a member of our university leadership team and as the president of one of the largest alumni associations in country. But to those who worked with her as a colleague or for the alumni who met her at events or for members of the local community who watched her grow up, I think what defined Jen was the enthusiastic joy she took in everything she did – small or grand.

In fact, as I write this, it is impossible for me to hold any picture of Jen in my mind other than one of her on Commencement morning, dressed in full regalia, wearing a huge, infectious smile on her face as we walk together down the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium surrounded by a sea of orange and blue graduates and their families. This year, that procession will be a little slower and our joy will be tempered by her absence.

I invite you to join us for a campus celebration of life in Jen’s honor this Thursday, May 4, at 5:30 p.m. in Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center.

Please join me in offering Tom, Max and Jake our condolences as a university family today.


Robert J. Jones

This mailing approved by:
Office of the Chancellor

sent to:
Academic Professionals, Civil Service, Faculty, Graduate Students & Undergraduate Students
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