From WILL - News Headlines -

University Community Weighs in on Chancellor Search

It is still early in the search for the University of Illinois' next chancellor, but the university community started weighing in on the hiring process during a public forum Monday night.

Many of the students and faculty members who were at the meeting said they want a chancellor who will represent their interests while considering the financial challenges facing the university.

"This university if it's not led well," architecture student Jake Vermillion said. "Could be severely and radically changed in a negative way."

The state owes the U of I more than $400 million. Vermillion said he is concerned about how the economic climate could affect the School of Architecture, especially as the university mulls over department cuts and consolidations.

That is a concern that has not escaped the committee tasked with finding the next chancellor. U of I Physics Professor Doug Beck heads that committee. Beck said whoever is chosen should have a strong academic history and be familiar with the difficult issues confronting public education.

"With the budget decreasing, the person has to understand in some detail what the consequences are and what possible mechanisms there are for maintaining or increasing revenue from various sources," Beck said, noting that the new chancellor would manage a $1.8 billion budget.

Another common issue brought up at the forum was a focus by the next chancellor to strengthen the relationship between the university and nearby communities.

University leaders say they hope to wrap up the process of replacing interim Chancellor Robert Easter before the next academic year. Easter replaced Richard Herman, who stepped down in October 2009 after an admissions scandal. The new chancellor would also hold the title of vice president.