University of Illinois welcomes new, research-rooted president

URBANA--With a base salary of $600,000 annually, the new president at the University of Illinois will be the highest paid in the institution's history, but trustees say he's worth it.

It took an eight-month search and around 200 candidates.

"We wanted a leader that would garner the respect of our faculty by the sheer force of their own academic record," said Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees. "We wanted a researcher who would have the credibility with the national funders who could help attract additional dollars and funding to Illinois."

After a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees, Dr. Timothy Killeen will be the U of I's 20th president. A former professor at the universities of Colorado and Michigan, Killeen now serves as president of the Research Foundation at the State University of New York. He credits those jobs with teaching him that his priority in this new role will be people.

"By focusing on our human capital--our students, our faculty and our staff--higher education can partner with other sectors and also create the needed social capital from the human capital and the economic capital," said Killeen.

"He clearly understands the importance of great students," said Phyllis Wise, chancellor at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus. "He talked about that multiple times in his talk. And what makes a university different from any other kind of business is that we have students."
But Killeen says it's the time he spent off campus as a director at the National Science Foundation in D.C. that schooled him on the business of higher education.

"I think it's a very interesting perspective you get from Washington when you're looking out on 2000 institutions and you get to see what's cooking in a way," said Killeen. "I think that will be helpful here, I know it will be helpful here."

Administrators agree.
"Dr. Killeen's career mirrors the core mission of the the University of Illinois," said Kennedy. "Supporting breakthroughs in research and taking that discovery to the marketplace to drive progress and economic growth."
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