Presumptive chancellor attended welcome reception


Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

An university faculty member congratulates new chancellor Robert J. Jones in the Illini Union on Wednesday, June 20th, 2016.

By Claire Hettinger, News Editor

The University community got its first glimpse of the presumptive new chancellor Wednesday morning. Dr. Robert J. Jones’s welcome ceremony packed a ballroom at the Illini Union.

Leaders of many campus units were there including Athletic Director Josh Whitman and Men’s Basketball coach John Groce, numerous deans and other faculty and staff. Student Senator Sam LeRoy represented the student body.

The board of trustees must approve Jones before he is the official chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

Jones joked about this during his speech at the reception. He said he was the presumptive chancellor, but “the board hasn’t voted yet so one never knows”

The board of trustees is expected to approve the hire at its meeting Thursday.

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Chairman of the board Edward L. McMillan said, “Thank you for being here, and thank you for the opportunity for Dr. Robert Jones to be our new chancellor. It is our pleasure to have him here.”

If Jones officially has the position, he will take office October 3.

His wife, Dr. Hassan Jones, MD, was also in attendance. President Killeen and Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson gave the couple gifts. Robert received a tie and matching cufflinks and Lynn received an Illini scarf. They both were presented with a large box of Illini athletic gear including for Robert a baseball cap and jersey with his name on it and the number 1.

“I hope you feel like part of the family,” Wilson said.

President Killeen said that the campus owes a “special debt of gratitude to Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson for sharing her talent over the last year.”

Wilson attended as well and she received a standing ovation for her service to the campus. Killeen said she led the campus through “several tricky challenges” and “served the University well.”

Wilson will return to her position as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. And Killeen said, “I look forward to the many contributions ahead.”  He added she will be a lifelong friend of him and his wife Roberta.

In his speech, Jones touched on his past, his plans and his love of the corn surrounding campus. He is a career long researcher of corn.

He gave an “official hello to the students and the reason we all are here among the best and the brightest, the future,” he said.

Jones plans to spend the first 100 days on campus to complete “a listening and learning tour.” He added the campus will see a lot of him as he begins the process of understanding the issues and what must be done to move the University forward.

“Over time as chancellor you will grow to tolerate me and even like me,” Jones said. “I think you all will grow to trust me.”

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