Administration hopes to name Interim Provost Feser’s successor soon


Lily Katz

Interim Vice Chancellor Edward Feser and Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson find that they are able to laugh with the SEC during the discussion of serious matters. Urbana, IL on Monday, April 25.

By Megan Jones , Staff Writer

Interim Provost Ed Feser’s departure leaves another hole in University administration that Chancellor Robert Jones hopes to quickly fill.

Jones hopes the new provost will be announced by Feb. 6 in order to allow time for the new provost to work with Feser, who will leave in late February.

Jones reached out to all deans and various constituencies, such as members of the Senate Executive Committee, for interim provost nominations. Feser himself gave Jones replacement suggestions.

Feser announced on Jan. 9 he was leaving the University for Oregon State University, where he will serve as provost and executive vice president starting Feb. 28. He served as interim provost since September 2015 after former provost Adesida Ilesanmi resigned in wake of an email scandal.

Jones plans to begin the search for a permanent provost as soon as possible, said Chris Harris, senior director of strategic communications. Harris said Jones would like to have someone in place as early as September, but more realistically by January 2018. A search firm will be used, but has yet to be selected.

“He has openly asked faculty and staff to offer their suggestions because he wants the broadest range of candidates for the interim position because this is someone who could be in the role for a full year, so it is a critical position,” Harris said.

The provost works closely with the chancellor, serves as the top academic officer and is in charge of the campus budget. Due to the state budget impasse, Feser spent a large chunk of his time working on finding a new way to budget for the campus.

Dean of LAS Feng Sheng Hu said the next provost must be visionary and wise with budget planning and deeply appreciative of the broad array of disciplines across the campus.

Both the new and interim provost will need to identify innovative and thoughtful approaches to wean the University away from depending on state funding, Hu said. Additionally, the new provost must help maintain academic excellence, keep faculty members at the University and invest in transformative teaching and advising programs.

“It’s also important that we continue to emphasize the importance of diverse perspectives on our campus. I expect the next provost to work with our campus leadership to advance our diversity and inclusivity goals,” Hu said in an email.

Dean of Engineering Andreas Cangellaris echoed Hu about the importance of implementing a new budgeting and operating model.

In an email, Cangellaris credited Feser as one of the most thoughtful and action-oriented provosts he has seen in thirty years in academia.

Feser said he did not leave due to budget challenges, but instead so he could be closer to his family who lives in Arizona and northern and southern California.

“The Provost and I are both avid outdoorsmen, so I look forward to seeing him on the hiking trails of the Pacific Northwest,” Hu said. “We’ll reflect on the accomplishments of this university under his leadership during very trying budgetary times.”

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