Dear Faculty and Staff:

I am pleased to name John Wilkin, dean of the University Library, as the interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost designate. Dean Wilkin’s seamless combination of a thoughtful, balanced demeanor along with the practical experience and working knowledge of academic operations established him as the right person for the position at this critical time. He will begin in this role on Feb. 18. The appointment is pending the review and approval of the Board of Trustees.

I have been consulting with our deans, department executives, students, institute directors, faculty members, staff and other campus leaders to fill this key position since Interim Provost Feser announced his departure. I want to thank each of you in the campus community who offered nominations, advice on the qualities we need and honest feedback about possible candidates. We are fortunate at Illinois to have a number of talented and experienced people qualified and willing to take on this responsibility.

What became clear to me is that Dean Wilkin is a leader who will continue to move this institution forward and who has the respect of the faculty, staff and students who he will represent. We have many challenges ahead of us, and we need an interim provost who can build consensus, foster collaborations and take an active role in shaping the strategic plans and vision for our university. I look forward to working closely with Dean Wilkin in that capacity.

I want to thank Ed Feser for his strong leadership during his time as interim provost. His leadership around the budget reform effort and positioning us for long term fiscal stability has been critical and the groundwork he has established will let us continue that work.

Dean Wilkin joined Illinois in May of 2013 as the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian and a professor of library administration. Prior to that, he served in a number of library-related capacities at the University of Michigan over the course of two decades, most recently as the executive director of HathiTrust and the associate university librarian for publishing and technology. He has graduate degrees in English from the University of Virginia and in library science from the University of Tennessee, as well as a bachelor’s degree in literature from Antioch College.

Dean Wilkin does not intend to be a candidate for the provost position, and he will meet with members of the Library leadership team to identify an acting University Librarian.

We will move as quickly as possible to fill the permanent provost position. I am working with the Academic Senate to establish a search committee composed of faculty, students, academic professionals and other stakeholders. My goal is to have the committee finalized and a national search underway by the middle of March with a final candidate selected in the fall semester.

I thank Dean Wilkin for his willingness to take on the interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost designate position, and I look forward to the work we’ll do together.

Robert J. Jones

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Academic Professionals, Civil Service & Faculty
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