The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

UI board of trustees to extend Timothy Killeen’s contract

Photo provided by the Office for External Relations and Communications.

The University of Illinois board of trustees has put forward a proposal to extend the contract of Timothy Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System, for an additional three years. 

The University of Illinois System consists of three universities at three campuses — Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign — with a combined enrollment of over 94,700 students. This extension is currently pending approval and subject to a formal vote at a board meeting in March. 

Killeen is the 20th president of the University of Illinois System. He first assumed his position in May 2015 and was granted a new contract in 2020, extending his tenure until June of this year.

The proposed extension, set to begin on July 1, 2024, ensures that President Tim Killeen’s current annual salary of $916,770 will remain unchanged. 

Under the terms of the extension, Killeen will also qualify for any merit-based salary increases up to the maximum allowed for all system administrators. Additionally, his deferred compensation amount will remain the same. 

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“The proposed extension reaffirms the board’s confidence in President Killeen’s continued leadership of the university system and its universities,” said Chairman Don Edwards in a press release.

Killeen’s tenure as president has been marked by great accomplishments and progress for the system as a whole, including improvements in student enrollment, affordability, diversity, financial aid, research and statewide economic development, the press release stated. 

Last fall, the University of Illinois System saw its enrollment reach record highs for the 10th consecutive year. It has also been successful in reaching its goal of keeping more students in-state, with 79% of undergraduates hailing from Illinois, while drawing in representation from all 102 counties. 

Under Killeen’s leadership, the University of Illinois System has focused on improving access and opportunities for underrepresented students, whose population has grown by over 8,000. 

In order to do so, it has implemented affordability initiatives such as a tuition freeze in six out of the last nine years, as well as significant increases in the availability of financial aid, the release said. The system’s retention and graduation rates currently surpass national averages, while student debt rates fall below them. 

Meanwhile, research funding has surged to over $1 billion, highlighting the system’s dedication to driving innovation with worldwide impact, the release said. The universities have also coordinated fundraising campaigns that exceeded their $3.1 billion target, raising a record $3.6 billion in their history of philanthropic efforts.

With Killeen’s help, the University of Illinois System has significantly contributed to economic growth and workforce development throughout Illinois, including through the establishment of the Discovery Partners Institute and the Illinois Innovation Network, both of which aim to expand research and stimulate job creation, the press release stated. 

The University of Illinois System’s activities inject an annual $19 billion into the state’s economy. According to a 2022 study, there has been an 8.6% increase in the system’s contribution to the state since 2018, which amounts to roughly $1.5 billion. 

Additionally, the release noted that Killeen has strengthened the system’s commitment to providing a well-rounded education, initiating a program that put almost $3.5 million into faculty initiatives to support the arts and humanities.

“The U of I System under Tim Killeen’s leadership has navigated a period of extraordinary challenge and emerged stronger and more committed to serving our students and the state of Illinois,” Edwards stated in the press release. “His unwavering dedication to the system’s mission and core values is transforming the landscape of higher education within our community and state and has set a benchmark of excellence with inclusive growth for others to follow.”

According to his biography, Killeen joined the system with more than three decades of experience as an educator, researcher and administrator in public higher education and in leadership positions with national scientific research agencies.

Originally from Wales, Killeen received a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy as well as a doctorate in atomic and molecular physics at the University College London. 

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 to serve as a member and past president of the American Geophysical Union and holds fellowship status with the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Killeen has also held roles as vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation at the State University of New York, assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation, Lyall Research Professor at the University of Colorado, director and senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and associate vice president for research at the University of Michigan, where he spent over 20 years as a faculty member. 

Given the proposed extension of his contract, Killeen expressed excitement to continue working with the board to uphold academic excellence throughout the system, while also remaining dedicated to serving the interests of the state.

“The board’s leadership and results-driven focus have been instrumental in bringing their vision for the future to fruition, and I am immensely grateful for their efforts,” Killeen said in the press release. 

“Our students deserve transformative experiences, and it is our responsibility to address the fundamental needs of our state,” Killeen said. “I am tremendously excited to build upon the momentum we have already established, with full confidence that we will seize opportunities to support and propel our great state forward, growing our impact here and around the world.”


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