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U of I board approves leadership appointments
Trustees also OK naming of new Urbana innovation center

March 15, 2017

URBANA — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved several high-level appointments Wednesday, and named a new student-focused innovation center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to honor a lead gift from a foundation headed by alumnus and tech entrepreneur Thomas Siebel.

The board approved the appointment of John Wilkin as interim vice president for academic affairs and provost in Urbana-Champaign. He has served as the university’s chief academic officer in a designate capacity since Feb. 18.

Wilkin will serve during a national search for a permanent provost. He succeeds Edward Feser, who served as interim provost before resigning to become provost and executive vice president at Oregon State University.

Wilkin has served as dean of libraries, university librarian and as a professor of library administration in Urbana-Champaign since 2013, after more than two decades in library-related roles at the University of Michigan and University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He earned graduate degrees in English from the University of Virginia and in library science from the University of Tennessee, and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Antioch College.

Trustees also approved the appointment of William H. Mischo as acting dean of libraries and university librarian while Wilkin serves as interim provost. He has filled the role in a designate capacity since Feb. 18.

Mischo joined the Urbana-Champaign faculty in 1982, and will continue to hold his current positions as professor of library administration and engineering librarian, and as Berthold Family Professor in Information Access and Discovery. He earned his undergraduate degree from Carthage College and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Barry D. Benson as vice chancellor for advancement in Urbana-Champaign and senior vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation, effective March 16. He will work in partnership with the foundation to manage all aspects of fundraising in Urbana-Champaign.

Benson is currently senior vice president of development, university campaigns, regional development and gift planning at the University of Arizona. He succeeds Dan C. Peterson, who resigned Feb. 29, 2016.

Trustees also approved the appointment of Michael Landek as interim vice chancellor for administrative services at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), effective April 1. He will serve during a national search for a permanent vice chancellor to succeed Mark Donovan, who will retire March 31.

Landek joined UIC in 1984, and has served as executive associate vice chancellor for administrative services since 2014. He earned his undergraduate degree from Governors State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from UIC.

The board also extended Allen Renear’s appointment as dean of Urbana-Champaign’s School of Information Sciences for two years, through Aug. 15, 2019.

Renear was appointed to a three-year term as dean in 2014, after serving for two years as interim dean. Before joining the school’s faculty in 2001, he served as director of the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bowden College, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Brown.

Trustees also approved a two-year extension of Fritz Drasgow’s appointment as dean of the School of Labor and Employment Relations in Urbana-Champaign.

Drasgow, who joined the school’s faculty in 1982, was appointed to a three-year term as dean in 2014, after serving for a year as interim dean. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in Urbana-Champaign, and an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany.

Design Center

The board formally approved naming a new student-focused learning and innovation hub in Urbana-Champaign as the Siebel Center for Design, honoring a $25 million lead gift from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation.

The gift and naming of the new leading-edge center were announced in October. The 60,000-square-foot facility will support multidisciplinary collaboration among students to bring new ideas to life, featuring workshops for 3D printing and laser cutting, digital media studios for audio recording and immersive technologies for virtual reality.

Groundbreaking is planned for next summer, with a construction timeline of 18 months. Institutional funds will cover the remainder of the center’s $48 million cost.

Thomas Siebel is an alumnus with three degrees from Urbana-Champaign. In 1993, he founded Siebel Systems, a global software company that merged with Oracle Corp. in 2006. He is now chairman and CEO of C3IoT, a software company that lets companies design and operate Internet of Things applications. In 2000, Seibel donated $32 million to the university to build the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science.

Salary program

The board approved a 2 percent, merit-based salary program that will provide mid-year raises for academic and civil service employees. The program is the first since a state budget impasse significantly reduced funding for the U of I System two years ago.

Killeen announced the program in December, saying competitive compensation is essential to recruit and retain top faculty and staff. He said ongoing internal cost-saving initiatives provided funding for modest raises that recognize employees for their commitment and dedication.

The salary program, which will be reflected in March paychecks, provides performance-based raises averaging 2 percent across units and individual increases will vary. Academic and open-range civil service employees were eligible for raises under the program, and certain exclusions were determined by each university and system office.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.


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