Vice chancellor for student affairs announces May retirement


Brian Bauer

Vice Chancellor Renee Romano speaks at the Senate Executive Committee meeting on Monday, October 3. Romano has decided to repeat the student trustee election, which will be held from April 26 to April 27.

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

The vice chancellor for student affairs announced she is retiring in May after commencement. She hopes to be attending different types of school events within a few years — her first grandchild’s.

Renee Romano, 61, is retiring to spend more time with her family. She has served as the vice chancellor since 2006, and her retirement brings the end of a 38-year career in higher education.

“It’s a good time for me,” she said. “My daughter is expecting a baby, so I’ll be a grandma for the first time.”

She will retire after commencement and has yet to pick an exact date. Her husband retired 10 years ago and she is ready to join him. She plans to move to Colorado, where her daughter lives.

“I want to be able to go school functions [for my grandchild], games and all that stuff,” she said.

She announced her retirement in an email to faculty that she is leaving the University in good hands with the new chancellor Robert Jones and other faculty members. She said she is sorry to leave during his time because he is great to work with.

“I feel like I am leaving at a really high point for us,” she said.

Jones has time to decide whether he wants to do a national search for her replacement to get someone on board before she leaves, she said, adding that the timeline gives him plenty of options.

“Robert really understands student affairs and values the experience of our students and the quality of our experience,” she said. “I already know that from working with him and we have a really strong student affairs unit here. It is very comprehensive, including housing, campus recreation and the Illini Union.”

As vice chancellor, Romano said she focused the most on student diversity and creating an inclusive environment for all students.

“I feel like students deserve a really great learning environment and a welcoming environment, so that’s what I really worked hard on,” she said. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. There is still work to be done and we still have a ways to go, but we’ve talked a lot to students about it. I think our students are pretty aware of the challenges and the solutions.”

Before working at the University, she worked in student affairs at the University of Northern Iowa, University of New Hampshire and Hollins University.

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