Two top U of I leaders named at Thursday’s board meeting

The University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved two vice presidents during its afternoon session Thursday.

Susan Koch will take the reins from Interim Vice President and Chancellor Harry Berman at the Springfield campus while Joe Garcia will become the University’s vice president for health affairs after serving as an interim hire.

“Our already world-class leadership team is even stronger with the addition of Dr. Koch and Dr. Garcia,” said board chairman Chris Kennedy. “Our growing Springfield campus and our exceptional health-care enterprise could not be in better hands.”

Koch has formerly served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern Michigan University, or NMU.

Koch said she is excited to begin her job at the start of July as the Springfield leader.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with an outstanding president and extraordinary leadership team at NMU, and I am looking forward to both the challenges and opportunities at UIS (Springfield),” Koch said in a press release announcing her appointment.

Garcia is currently the vice chancellor for research at the Chicago campus and a professor in the College of Medicine.

Garcia has served the interim position since March, after the position was created last November as part of the Administrative Review and Restructuring initiative.

University President Michael Hogan announced Thursday morning a $100 million scholarship initiative over the next three years to assist students at the University of Illinois to meet financial obligations in times of growing college costs.

Access Illinois: The Presidential Scholarship Initiative, which will be seeking the majority of its funds from alumni and donors, was supported by the Board of Trustees at its meeting in Chicago.

Kennedy said University students have done great things because “education unlocked doors of opportunity.”

“This crucial initiative will ensure that the University continues to welcome the best and brightest students, regardless of their ability to pay,” Kennedy said.

Hogan, along with his wife Virginia, started the campaign with a $100,000 contribution to the fund.

“There is no higher priority to me than making sure that rising costs don’t deny students the life-changing opportunities that a University of Illinois education provides,” Hogan said. “College is a cornerstone of the American dream, and we are committed to preserving it for our students.”

Hogan said he wants to give back to education because of the “same life-changing opportunity that an education has given (him).”

This initiative will be led by the University of Illinois Foundation and will be similar to the Brilliant Futures campaign, which is near completion.

“Scholarship support has been a significant part of the Brilliant Futures campaign and this initiative will be creating more momentum and emphasis on student assistance over the next three years,” said Sidney Micek, president of the University foundation.

She added, “At the end of the day, we want to be able to help deserving students throughout Illinois and from around the country to have an opportunity to get a degree from the University of Illinois.”

Hogan also addressed the board with his plan of a general raise for University employees, which he said is a “top priority.”

Some faculty have expressed frustrations as University employees have not received a pay raise in about three years.

The raise, which Hogan wants to implement as soon as Governor Pat Quinn signs an appropriations bill, would be anywhere from two and a half to three percent with the merit- and retention-based raises.

Hogan said he wants to be able to keep the best faculty members because they are “constantly being recruited.” He added that every time they leave, faculty potentially take away millions of dollars in research grants.

Quinn has until the end of the month to approve or veto the bill, which Hogan believes has gubernatorial support.

“All indicators are positive,” Hogan said.