Next interim provost brings campus budget reform experience


L. Brian Stauffer, U of I News Bureau

John Wilkin – Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian – is named interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost.

By Megan Jones , Staff Writer

Another name was added to the list of interim administration positions Monday, as the University tapped Dean of Libraries John Wilkin to serve as the next interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Wilkin joined the University in 2013. Previously, Wilkin served in various library-related roles at the University of Michigan for two decades. At the University, he has served as the executive director of associate univrsity librarian for publishing and technology and of HathiTrust, a large scale digital collection of research titles from around the world.

When Chancellor Robert Jones notified Wilkin on Feb. 6, he said a lot of things weighed in on his decision to accept the position.

“I have an 11-year-old son and a nice life outside of work, and I was reluctant,” Wilkin said. “But Jones told me that a number of people had recommended me and I talked to Nick, my son, and Maria, my wife, and everyone was supportive — that was what nailed it for me.”

Wilkin is set to begin Feb. 18, replacing Interim Provost Edward Feser, who will start as the provost of Oregon State University Feb. 28.

“Ed has been a tremendous leader who is very inclusive in his processes and very frank about issues and that flows over into his transition,” Wilkin said. “If it wasn’t for Ed, I think transitioning would be a much harder job.”

The provost works closely with the chancellor, serves as the top academic officer and is in charge of the campus budget. Wilkin is set to earn $320,000 a year, an increase from the $249,000 a year he makes as the library dean.

But Wilkin already has experience with the campus budget. He currently serves as the chair of Feser’s Budgeting Reform Steering Committee, which aims to help decrease the University’s reliance on state funding.

“For me, what is most exciting is our ability to move forward with the budget reform process — not because of wonky budget reasons, there is always that, but it is going to give our institution the tools to be nimbler and more strategic,” Wilkin said.

Wilkin said he does not want to be a candidate for the permanent provost position, and he will meet with others to select an acting University Librarian to lead while he serves as provost.

“I am a library director. I like leading libraries and I like playing a part in building this great University, so I look forward to being back in the dean’s position and to play any role I can in getting a good permanent provost in place,” Wilkin said.

Jones has begun hiring a search firm to assist with finding a permanent provost. The search committee is expected to begin its work by mid-March and the process is expected to be completed by the fall, Jones said.

Currently, the budget reform committee makes recommendations to the provost, so Wilkin does not know if he will continue to chair the committee.

Wilkin is making the most of Feser’s time before he leaves, with meetings set for Tuesday and Friday.

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