Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Announcement
June 22, 2022 12:00 PM

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

It is with conflicting emotions today that I tell you that Andreas Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost since 2018, has told me he will be leaving that role in August to become the Founding President of NEOM University. Selfishly, I am sorry that our university will lose such a dynamic, innovative and empathetic scholar, teacher and leader. But it is hard to feel anything but excited for Provost Cangellaris about this chance to shape the future of the first university in this new sustainable regional development in Saudi Arabia.  

In the coming weeks, I will name an Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. We will launch an international search later this summer, and I am optimistic we will have the next permanent provost in place by the start of the spring semester.

Provost Cangellaris has been a member of this university and this community for more than 25 years, and I challenge you to find an individual who better exemplifies the spirit of the land-grant university mission. He is a renowned researcher. He is a relentless advocate for students, staff and faculty alike. He is a trusted steward of our financial resources and the guardian of our academic integrity and excellence. He is a collaborative, creative and purposeful administrator. And at every step of his career at Illinois, he has quietly shown us that kindness, compassion and empathy do not detract from strong and strategic leadership – but in fact are the very qualities that define the leaders we admire most.

To adequately share his list of notable accomplishments at Illinois would require a series of massmails. But I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Provost Cangellaris’ extraordinary contributions to the health, safety and future of our university throughout the COVID-19 crisis. I have regularly stated my belief that no other university navigated the pandemic with a stronger commitment to the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff and community members than ours. While Provost Cangellaris would be the last to take any credit for that record, he is most certainly the first to whom it should be given.

When you set out to build a new kind of university, literally from the ground up, you will need a leader who has unfailingly demonstrated by word and by action his belief that education is the most powerful, transformational and equalizing force on the planet. More critically, you need an individual who inspires those who choose to join that university to believe that creating a better world isn’t just possible – it is a personal and sacred responsibility.

So, it should be no surprise to anyone here at Illinois that NEOM’s search for its inaugural leader led them directly to our provost – to my colleague and friend – Andreas Cangellaris.

We will all deeply miss Provost Cangellaris’ counsel, wisdom, leadership, endless patience and inexhaustible good humor. But I hope each of us also shares a sense of joy and excitement for Provost Cangellaris at this singular opportunity to build and lead a new global university.

And, on behalf of all of the students, faculty, staff and leadership of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I want to thank him for his long, distinguished service here. We are a stronger, better and kinder university thanks to Andreas.


Robert J. Jones

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