Illinois hires new professors

By Benedicte Yenyi Mulumba, Staff Writer

The University of Illinois System has created a recruitment program with a budget of $60 million to hire faculty to work on expanding the research at each of the three campuses.

The candidates, 10 professors at the University, three in Chicago and one in Springfield, will work on expanding the exceptional scholarship that will attract students and research funding.

Uwe Rudolph, head of the Department of Comparative Biosciences, was hired under the President’s Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program after relocating from Harvard Medical School.

“I was in the medical school and like most faculty members at Harvard Medical School, I was based in the hospital. I was the laboratory director and full professor over there,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph said he was attracted to the University for its reputation as one of the leading research universities in the world.

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The PDFRP has named the recruitment program, the “inaugural class,” and has added seven faculties recently for a total of 14 in all the University of Illinois System after the first year of its launch.

Liviu Mirica, professor in LAS, is an expert in inorganic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis.

Mirica said he was not bribed, however when a faculty moves from one institution to another, they receive some funds that will allow them to expand new directions called start up funds or relocation funds.

“To start research infrastructures like buying new instruments or hiring more students to work in different areas, for that aspect, yes we get a little bit of help in term of receiving some funds. I will never consider it as a bribe, but it is a big attractant to the institution,” Mirica said.  

In September 2017, the president’s office issued a call for recruitment proposals for 2018. The program had non-recurring matching funds of $30 million over a three-year period or $10 million per year to attract 10 to 15 highly prominent faculties across the system.

Rudolph said his criteria before accepting the offer was the department had to be vibrant.

“Overall, a good amount of externally funded research and that the campus should also provide opportunities, existing, ongoing activities to which my lab could connect,” Rudolph said. “This department is vibrant with a lot of activities going on.”

Mirica said it was an easy decision for him in term of carrier move, research and opportunities.

“We had to have all the pieces fall in place in terms of family, the school system and finding a job for my spouse,” Mirica said. “But in the end, everything worked out and so far we are really happy here.”

Qing Cao, professor in the department of material science and engineering, started in the middle of the fall semester from IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center where he worked for 10 years.

Cao graduated from the University and was reached three years ago by a faculty who works here.

“It is a great honor for me to have an opportunity to come back and serve the University as a faculty member,” Cao said.

Cao is planning on establishing a working-class research program with workers with a new type of electronic materials for nanoelectronic to continue what he has been doing at IBM research.

“(The University) is a great platform for me to skill up my research program,” Cao said.  

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Correction: A previous version of the story included a photo of a faculty member who is misstated as a professor hired under the PDFRP. The Daily Illini regrets this error.