2021-22 President’s Executive Leadership Program (PELP) Fellows
July 1, 2021 9:02 AM

Dear colleagues:

I am delighted to announce the 2021-22 President’s Executive Leadership Program (PELP) Fellows. The selection process this year was very competitive; we received nearly 70 nominations from across our three universities for the limited number of slots available. Diversity of background and experiences, as well as university representation were factors in the selection process. 

PELP is a unique professional development program designed to broaden participants’ understanding of higher education issues and to strengthen their leadership skills related to overseeing a public institution at the university or system level. The program consists of four seminars that take place in Chicago, Springfield, Urbana-Champaign and Washington, D.C.

Please join me in congratulating the following individuals who were selected for the 2021-22 program.


  • Rhea Ballard-Thrower, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, University Library
  • Susan Corbridge, Executive Associate Dean, College of Nursing
  • Stephanie Crawford, Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs & Strategic Initiatives and Professor, College of Pharmacy
  • Lisa Freeman, Department Head and Professor, Department of English
  • Rosilie Hernández, Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs and Professor, Department of Hispanic & Italian Studies
  • Kathleen Kashima, Senior Associate Dean of Students, College of Medicine


  • Brian Kelley, Interim Executive Director of Auxiliary Services and Director of Residence Life, Division of Student Affairs & Residence Life
  • Kathy Novak, Acting Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


  • Sean Garrick, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Philippe Geubelle, Executive Associate Dean, Grainger College of Engineering and Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering
  • Cynthia Oliver, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Professor, Department of Dance
  • Kelly Ritter, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor, Department of English
  • Eunice Santos, Dean, School of Information Sciences
  • Ron Watkins, Associate Dean, Gies College of Business and Managing Director, Shield Illinois

University Senates Conference

  • Aria Razfar, Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Illinois Chicago

System Offices

  • Sandy Street, Assistant Vice President for Planning & Budgeting

Thank you to all who participated in the process, either as nominators or as candidates. We are fortunate to be part of a community with so many dedicated leaders who are interested in furthering their skills as well as enhancing our institution. We plan to continue to host PELP annually, and I strongly encourage the many talented individuals who were not selected this year to apply again in the future.



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