Chancellor Herman resigns, effective Monday

Chancellor Richard Herman has resigned his position effective Oct. 26, according to a University press release Tuesday morning.

Herman submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday to Board of Trustees Chair Christopher G. Kennedy, who accepted it for consideration by the trustees. The Board’s Executive Committee is scheduled to meet Friday to act on Herman’s resignation and a revised employment agreement.

“Ours is a great institution with its brilliant and hard-working faculty and staff, and its smart and ambitious students, and I plan to continue to contribute to ensuring the bright future of the University of Illinois,” Herman wrote in his letter to the Board. “Thank you for the honor to serve the University. I have enjoyed every minute, in fact, every nanosecond.”

Kennedy said the board will not be appointing an interim chancellor as they continue a search for a University president.

The Board of Trustees has done a great job helping the University through this transition, said David Wall, vice president of the Illinois Student Senate.

“It’s a step in the right direction and a good opportunity to start out fresh,” Wall said about Herman’s resignation.

University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) chancellor Richard D. Ringesen released a statement in regards to Herman’s resignation.

“I have personally known Richard for many years, even before he came to Urbana and have appreciated working with him through the years,” Ringesen said. “I respect his decision and I wish him well.”

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) chancellor Paula Allen-Meares has yet to release a statement regarding the former chancellor’s resignation. UIC public relations bureau director Bill Burton declined to comment.

Tracy McCabe, assistant dean of external and alumni affairs for the College of Business, said he believes Herman has been very supportive of the college in his tenure. He added that he trusts the timing of Herman’s decision.

“I can only speak to my personal confidence that he makes sound judgments,” he said. “If it was the right time for Richard than this is the right time.”

According to Herman’s contract, if he leaves his chancellor position, he will remain on staff as a professor of mathematics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on indefinite tenure.

However, according to a press release from the University, “Herman will move to the College of Education where he will serve as a professor, with an additional appointment as visiting professor in the College of Education on the University’s Chicago campus.”

Herman’s transition to the College of Education is natural given his service to higher education as chancellor, said Mary Kalantzis, dean of the College of Education at the University.

“I think what he’s done in the time that he’s been a chancellor is champion educational reform, from schools right through to higher education and particularly in math science and technology,” Kalantzis said.

“The College of Education is the natural place for him to be able to give back to the community and continue the research work he is doing to make a difference in the country,” she added.

Sheldon Katz, chair of the math department, said he was caught off guard by Herman’s decision.

“The news was a surprise to me just like everybody else,” Katz said. “No, I had no reason to expect this was coming right now.”

Some members of the Urbana-Champaign Faculty Senate–which voted 98-55 in September for Herman and University President B. Joseph White to step down, said the announcement was not a surprise.

Tom Overbye, member of the U-C Senate’s executive committee and professor in Engineering, said the move was just a matter of time.

“Given what happened at the senate at the beginning of the semester, I knew this was coming at some point,” he said. “Just not so suddenly.”

Jeff Dawson, member of the senate’s executive committee and a professor in ACES, also said he anticipated the announcement.

“I expected it would happen,” Dawson said. “In these types of cases, the needs of the University outweigh the needs of the individual. Unfortunately, it was necessary for new leadership to rebuild the reputation of the University.”

Herman began his tenure as chancellor in May 2005. As chancellor, Herman led and served on a number of committees, including former President George W. Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Herman holds a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Maryland. Herman is chair of the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, a program that aims to stimulate better science and math teachers, particularly at the high school level.

“Dr. Herman is passionate about education, specifically science and math,” said Howard Gobstein, vice president of research for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “It is obvious that this is very important to him personally. He is a very active member and a great chair.”

Gobstein said he believes the University’s prestigious reputation is because of Herman’s efforts outside of Illinois. “Because of Herman, people in Washington think higher of Illinois because of his leadership on some national issues,” Gobstein said.

Herman said in an e-mail interview that his greatest achievement as chancellor was the creation of Illinois Promise, which provides financial aid for students from the lowest income levels.

Susan Gershenfeld, director of Illinois Promise Student Services, said Herman is the driving force behind the program.

Herman holds an annual reception for incoming Illinois Promise students so they can meet each other and the faculty on campus. Gershenfeld said Herman frequently meets with Illinois Promise students and writes personal letters to all of its graduates.

“He is a great leader for our program,” Gershenfeld said.