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March 14, 2019

U of I board approves new deans, including head of medical school
Trustees also approve degree programs for Chicago law school

URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the appointment of new deans at its universities in Chicago and Springfield on Thursday, along with a series of master's degree programs for Chicago’s John Marshall Law School.

Mark Rosenblatt was appointed dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), one of the nation’s largest medical schools, effective March 16. Rosenblatt, who joined UIC in 2014, is the Lions/Charles I. Young Endowed Chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and also serves as head of the department.

A leader in the study of cornea regeneration, Rosenblatt’s practice focuses on laser vision correction surgery and the treatment of cataracts and corneal disease. He is the director of the Corneal Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, where his research into new techniques for regenerating lost or damaged corneal nerves and tissue using stem cells has received extensive funding, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

Rosenblatt previously was a professor of ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he served as the department’s vice chair and as director of the Margaret M. Dyson Vision Research Institute.

Rosenblatt earned his medical, doctoral and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Miami (Florida) and a master’s in business administration from New York University. He succeeds Charles E. Ray Jr. who served as acting or interim dean since July 2017, and former dean Dimitri Azar, who stepped down to serve as senior director of Ophthalmologic Innovation at Verily Life Sciences. Ray will return to serving as head of the Department of Radiology at UIC.

This week, the College of Medicine was recognized for its academic strength in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. The College of Medicine improved from 67th to 48th in the primary-care rankings and from 52nd to 50th in the research ranking. U.S. News ranked 120 colleges of medicine separately in research and in primary care.

The board also approved the appointment of Somnath Bhattacharya as dean of the College of Business and Management at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS), effective March 15. He has served in a designate capacity since Feb. 16

Bhattacharya is a leader in enterprise resource planning systems – a software system that integrates a business’ primary functions, such as managing people, the purchase of products and services and finances – and how those systems impact the companies that adopt them. He served as dean of the Gus Machado School of Business and as a professor of accounting at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, since 2014. He also served as a faculty member and administrator at Florida Atlantic University, and as director of the Florida Atlantic School of Accounting.

He earned a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of South Florida and an M.B.A. from Northern Arizona University.

Bhattacharya succeeds Ronald McNeil, who retired as dean of the UIS College of Business and Management in 2018. James Ermatinger, dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, served as interim dean.

UIC John Marshall Law School
The board approved establishing eight advanced degree programs for the UIC John Marshall Law School. Master of laws degrees, for graduates who hold a law degree or foreign equivalent, were established in employee benefits, estate planning, intellectual property law, international business and trade law, real estate law, tax law and technology and privacy law to offer further specialization in those areas of law. A master of jurisprudence – with concentrations in employee benefits, estate planning, intellectual property law, international business and trade law, real estate law, tax law and technology and privacy law – was established for non-attorney professionals. The board in December established the juris doctor degree for the law school.

Creating the new degrees is another step in a process that began with the board’s July 2018 approval of an agreement to make the once-private Chicago law school part of UIC, creating Chicago’s only public law school. The UIC John Marshall Law School is seeking accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and approval for a change of control from the U.S. Department of Education. Current John Marshall Law School students will become UIC students, and the first class of students is expected next fall.

Student health insurance
Also on Thursday, the board set student health insurance premiums for the 2019-20 academic year. Students can opt out of coverage if they prove they have comparable coverage from other sources.

Premiums will increase 20 percent for students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, based on increased claims over the last year. Undergraduate premiums will increase by $99 to $554 per semester, while rates for graduate students will increase by $114 to $696 per semester.

At UIC, premiums will increase 18 percent for all students – the first increase in five years – rising by $103 to $673 per semester. At UIS, premiums will increase 63 percent, going up $336 to $866 per semester for all students, which was based on an enrollment decline in the insurance plan and increases in claims.

Wieneke Track named
The board approved naming the running track portion of Urbana-Champaign's $6 million track and field replacement project as the Gary R. Wieneke Track. Wieneke, known as the “Einstein of the 800 meters,” is the most decorated track and field coach in university history, including having led the Fighting Illini to 13 Big Ten titles in track and field and having guided four Illinois athletes to Olympic appearances. Wieneke, who resides in Champaign, retired in 2003 after 36 years with the university.

New trustees
The board installed three new trustees who were appointed in January by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Seated at Thursday’s meeting were Chicago attorney Patricia Brown Holmes, who served on the board from 2011-17, former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson of Champaign, and Kareem Dale of Chicago, who advised former President Obama on national disability policy and is now senior counsel at Discover Financial Services.

Another Pritzker appointee, Ricardo Estrada, was seated in January. Estrada, who served as a trustee from 2011-17, is president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, one of the state’s largest human services agencies.

The new board members succeed outgoing trustees Timothy Koritz, James Montgomery and Patrick Fitzgerald, whose terms ended in January, and Sanford Perl. Perl was appointed by then-Governor Bruce Rauner and had served since last May, but had not yet been confirmed by the Senate, which allowed Pritzker to withdraw the appointment and select his own nominee.

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The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 86,000 students, about 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.