Office for University Relations

NEWS RELEASE, July 25, 2013

U of I board, president agree to one-year extension

 Easter to serve until June 2015 under new agreement

URBANA, Ill. —  An agreement to extend the term of President Robert Easter by a year, through June 30, 2015, was approved Thursday by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees during a meeting on the U of I’s Chicago campus.

Easter became the University’s 19th president on July 1, 2012, after 36 years as a faculty member and top administrator on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Under that appointment, Easter agreed to serve for two years or until a successor was named.

Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy said the board initiated extension talks with Easter, who had twice postponed retirement to serve as president and, previously, as interim chancellor of the Urbana campus from 2009 to 2011.

Kennedy said Easter’s leadership brought continuity to the University after the resignation of former President Michael Hogan, along with strategies that will advance the U of I’s standing as one of the world’s premier public research universities. With more than 77,000 students enrolled in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, the University of Illinois has a $5.4 billion operating budget and a growing research portfolio that is approaching $1 billion.

“Bob has a rare combination of talents – a model of stability who can also bring about change through the trust and respect he has earned during his nearly four decades of distinguished service to the University.” Kennedy said. “The trustees are pleased that Dr. Easter has agreed to extend his service. We could have launched a search for a new president, but we wouldn’t find a better choice than the president we have on the job right now.”

Easter said he is honored by the board’s confidence and the opportunity to continue his service to the University where he has spent his entire professional career.

“It is truly a privilege to lead a University that is known around the world for excellence in education, innovation and service to society, and to work with trustees, faculty, staff and supporters who are committed to an even brighter future,” Easter said.

Easter’s base annual salary since he became president has been $450,000. Both in the coming year and in the final year of the agreement, Easter also will participate in a performance-based incentive compensation plan to be developed by the Executive Committee in conjunction with  the board for consideration at its meeting in September. The plan would be tailored to link compensation to achievement of goals that advance the University. This approach has been  adopted by other public universities, including the University of Texas system and Purdue University. 

Easter first came to the University of Illinois in 1973 as a graduate student, and earned his doctorate in animal science in 1976. He joined the faculty that same year, and later served as head of the Department of Animal Science, as dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences from 2002 to 2009, and as interim chancellor of  the Urbana campus from 2009 to 2011.

An expert in livestock nutrition, Easter has co-authored a book on livestock production and has written more than 90 peer-reviewed articles, 11 book chapters, and numerous papers for conferences and industry publications. He also has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and 30 foreign countries on livestock feeding.

In 2006, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), and was appointed as chair of BIFAD in 2007. He also is a member of the American Society of Animal Science and the British Society of Animal Science, and serves on the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation and the Governor’s Committee on China.

Reared on a grain and livestock farm in southwest Texas, Easter earned his undergraduate degree in agricultural education in 1970 and a master’s degree in animal nutrition in 1972, both from Texas A&M University.

Easter is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he served for 20 years. He and his wife, Cheryl, have two adult children and six grandchildren.

Student trustees

The board also seated three students who will serve as trustees through June 30, 2014.

Danielle Leibowitz of the Chicago campus, Jamaal Hollins of the Springfield campus and Michael Cunningham of the Urbana-Champaign campus were elected last spring in votes by students on their campuses. They replace outgoing student trustees Kenneth Thomas of UIC, John Tienken of UIS and David Pileski from Urbana-Champaign.

Student trustees have served on the board since 1973 to give students a voice in University governance. Since 1998, state law has given one student trustee voting power, and Gov. Pat Quinn has designated Cunningham as the voting member for 2013-14.

Leibowitz, of Chicago, is a junior in the mathematics program in the UIC College of Education and a member of the Honors College. She has served in various leadership positions with Undergraduate Student Government and is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership awards.

Hollins, of Flossmoor, is a senior majoring in computer science. He has served as treasurer of both the Student Government Association and Student Organization Funding Association, and as a member of the UIS Campus Senate. He is also captain of the UIS squash team.

Cunningham, of River Grove, is a senior with a double major in economics and political science. He is president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and a member of the Phi Gamma Nu professional business fraternity. He also has interned for 9th District Cook County Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri.


The board also approved the appointments of an interim vice president and new deans on the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses.

Jerry Bauman, dean of the College of Pharmacy at UIC, was appointed interim vice president for health affairs, effective Sept. 1. He will oversee the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, provide oversight of the University’s Medical Center, and connect the clinical mission of the hospital to the research and teaching missions of the University.

Bauman joined UIC in 1979 as an assistant professor of pharmacy science, and has served as dean of the College of Pharmacy since 2007. He also served as UIC’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost in 2011.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at the Medical Center (now UIC) and a Pharm.D. degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He will replace Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, who has resigned effective Sept. 1 to become senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Arizona.

Andreas C. Cangellaris was appointed dean of the College of Engineering in Urbana-Champaign, one of the world’s largest engineering programs and a leader in engineering education and research.

Cangellaris joined the college’s faculty in 1997, and has served as head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2008. He has served as interim dean of the college since June, and is broadly recognized for his research in applied and computational electromagnetics.

He earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985, and will assume his new duties Aug. 16. He replaces Ilesanmi Adesida, who is now vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of the Urbana-Champaign campus.

John P. Wilkin was appointed dean of libraries and university librarian in Urbana-Champaign, one of the largest public research library collections in North America.

Wilkin has served as associate university librarian at the University of Michigan, where he also leads the university’s library information technology and publishing divisions. He is also the executive director of the HathiTrust Digital Library, an online repository established in 2008 to unite the digitized collections of more than 60 research libraries, including the U of I’s.

He earned his master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and will assume his new duties Aug. 16. He replaces Paula Kaufman, who is returning to the faculty.

Robert J. Hauser was reappointed dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in Urbana-Champaign, a world leader in education and research programs to create abundant food and energy and a healthy environment.

Hauser became dean in 2010 and under the extension he will serve an additional year, through Aug. 15, 2014. He joined the faculty in 1982, and later served as head of the Department of Agricultural Economics. He earned his doctorate from Iowa State University.

Janet S. Slater was appointed dean of the College of Media in Urbana-Champaign, with programs in journalism, advertising, media and cinema studies, communications research and public broadcasting. Slater has served as interim dean since 2010.

Slater, who earned her doctorate from Syracuse University, joined the U of I faculty in 2007 and is former head of the Department of Advertising.

Steve Everett was appointed dean of the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts at Chicago, which offers degree programs in the visual arts, design, theater and music, architecture and art history.

Everett has served as a professor of music and assistant vice provost for academic affairs at Emory University. He also was director of the university’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence and director of the Music-Audio Research Center.

He earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and will assume his new duties Aug. 1. He replaces Judith Russi Kirshner, who has returned to the faculty.

Brian H. Ross was appointed interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Urbana-Champaign, with more than 50 academic units in chemistry, biological and chemical engineering, communication, English, history, mathematics, microbiology and political science.

Ross, who earned his doctorate from Stanford University, is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology and at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He replaces Ruth Watkins, who resigned to become senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah.

Fritz Drasgow was appointed interim dean of the School of Labor and Employment Relations in Urbana-Champaign, one of the nation’s leading programs in human relations and industrial relations.

Drasgow, who earned his doctorate from the Urbana-Champaign campus, is currently a professor at the School of Labor and Employment Relations and in the Department of Psychology. He succeeds Joseph J. Martocchio, who returned to the faculty after serving as interim dean since former Dean Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld resigned last year. Cutcher-Gershenfeld also returned to the faculty.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 77,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.