News Local/State

UI Faculty Offer Input Into Wise’s Replacement


Days after University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced her resignation, faculty members have varying opinions on the kind of person to permanently replace her.

U of I Kinesiology professor Kim Graber is vice chair of the campus Senate Executive Committee, and also served on the panel that recommended Wise’s hiring.  She wants to see a ‘seamless transition’ into someone familiar with the campus, citing the now-retired Bob Easter’s time as president the last few years after Michael Hogan resigned from the job. 

Graber said President Timothy Killeen will gauge a lot of opinions.

“I think he’s going to seek wide input," she said. "That’s something he really wants to do.  We’re sending out a letter to all members of the academic senate, asking them to send input directly to President Killeen about individuals they would suggest.”

Graber also said the search for an Urbana campus chancellor is going to be difficult, given the high rate of turnover in U of I administration, and state budget problems. 

U of I English lecturer and president of the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition, Shawn Gilmore, said he bears no personal animosity toward Wise.  But his biggest concern regarding a new chancellor is how that person communicates with unions, citing frustration with Wise.

“She was always very reticent to provide any clear mechanism for any of that, and would rely on individual faculty that she hand-picked," he said.  "We would like to see a much more public engagement with union concerns, faculty concerns, but also with the other constituents within the university.”

About 500 non-tenured track faculty formed a union in 2014, which is negotiating with the U of I for a contract. 

In a statement last week, President Killeen said he’ll seek input both internally and externally.  He’s expected to name an interim chancellor to replace Wise in the next week.  

U of I spokesman Tom Hardy said the search for Wise' permanent replacement is expected to six to nine months, the better part of the academic year.