Appointment of the new dean of LAS
July 28, 2021 10:01 AM

Dear faculty, staff and students,  

I am pleased to announce Professor Venetria K. Patton as the Harry E. Preble Dean Designate of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She is currently Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University. Professor Patton will begin this new role on August 2, 2021, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Following a national search for this position, I consulted with the search committee, College leadership and with Chancellor Robert Jones. Professor Patton emerged as the best candidate to serve as the next dean.

Professor Patton has held several leadership roles at Purdue University. Before serving as Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Professor Patton served as Provost Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion and before that, as director of the African American Studies and Research Center.

Before arriving at Purdue, she was an Associate Professor of English and of African American Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her teaching and research are focused on African American and Diasporic Women’s Literature. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of La Verne and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of California-Riverside.

The university home of roughly one-third of students and faculty on our campus, our College of Liberal Arts & Sciences has a legacy of excellence and a strong reputation. I am confident that Professor Patton will advance the college and amplify the world-renowned, human-centered scholarship being done across disciplines to advance the world.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Gene Robinson who has led LAS as interim dean since July 2020. Under his leadership, the College’s excellence has continued to advance and laid a solid foundation for future growth and success. We thank him for this service as he returns to lead the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) following an extremely successful five-year review of his IGB leadership conducted last year. I also thank Professor Don Ort who in turn served as acting director of the IGB this past year.

I also want to thank the members of the search committee, chaired by Dean Vikram Amar, for their efforts and commitment to this search.

Please join me in congratulating Professor Patton on her appointment as dean designate of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

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