The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on November 19 named
Timothy L. Killeen
the 20th president of the University of Illinois.
“The University of Illinois, with its three distinctive world-class campuses, stands poised to build on its tremendous and ongoing history of accomplishment to envision and define the future of public comprehensive higher education. I will devote myself to this noble enterprise with every ounce of my energy and thank the Board for their confidence in me.”
University of Illinois names 20th president
SUNY Research Foundation President Timothy L. Killeen selected;
Acclaimed researcher also served as top administrator at NSF
CHICAGO, Ill. — Timothy L. Killeen, vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY), was named the 20th president of the University of Illinois on Wednesday, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees at its Jan. 15 meeting in Chicago.
Killeen, 62, who would succeed retiring President Robert Easter, brings the experience of more than three decades as a teacher, researcher and administrator in public higher education and in top leadership positions with national scientific research agencies.
His work at SUNY mirrors core missions of the University of Illinois – supporting pioneering research and scholarship across disciplines, and taking it to the marketplace to drive economic growth.
As president of SUNY’s Research Foundation, Killeen is chief executive officer of the largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the nation, administering about $900 million annually across SUNY’s statewide network of 29 state-supported research campuses. Combined with his role as vice chancellor for research, he is at the center of SUNY’s strategy for research growth and works with campus leaders to increase basic, clinical and translational research.
He also chairs SUNY’s Patent and Inventions Policy Board, which seeks to promote economic development by turning research discovery into new businesses, products and services.
Killeen spent more than 20 years on the faculty and in administration at the University of Michigan, and served as assistant director for geosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) before joining SUNY in 2012. The independent federal agency provides nearly a quarter of federal research funding for U.S. colleges and universities, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranks third among U.S. universities in NSF funding.
A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, Killeen earned his Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics from University College London at the age of 23. In 2007, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which honors the world’s most accomplished engineers.
About the President-elect
Timothy L. Killeen has served since 2012 as vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation at the State University of New York, one of the nation’s largest higher education systems with 64 campuses, 465,000 students, 88,000 faculty and more than 7,600 degree and certificate programs.
As president of SUNY’s Research Foundation, Killeen heads the nation’s largest, most comprehensive university-connected research foundation, administering about $900 million annually across SUNY’s 29 state-supported research campuses. In his dual role as vice chancellor for research, he is at the center of SUNY’s strategy for research growth and works with campus leaders to increase basic, clinical and translational research.
Before joining SUNY, he served for four years as assistant director for the geosciences at the National Science Foundation. He also has served as Lyall Research Professor at the University of Colorado, as director and senior scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and spent more than 20 years as a faculty member and researcher at the University of Michigan, where he also served as associate vice president for research.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007, and also is a member and past president of the American Geophysical Union, and a member of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New York Academy of Sciences.
A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, Killeen received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at University College London, where he earned his doctoral degree in atomic and molecular physics at the age of 23.
His research has earned three achievement awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and he has received awards for teaching and research excellence from the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He has authored more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, along with more than 300 other publications and papers.
Killeen’s wife, Roberta M. Johnson, is executive director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association and a clinical professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the State University of New York at Albany. They have three children.
Archived Videostream of Announcements on Each Campus
Reactions to Naming Dr. Killeen
“Academic research institutions are the greatest renewable economic resource this country has ever had, and we are thrilled to have one of the greatest living researchers in America to lead the University of Illinois.”
-- Christopher G. Kennedy
Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees
“Tim Killeen was our unanimous choice to be the next President of the University of Illinois. He has the special combination of academic, intellectual and personal skills that place him in the company of great leaders who have headed the university, including our current president, Bob Easter. Dr. Killeen is a thoughtful and dedicated researcher who understands the critical role that public universities must play in today's challenging environment: to provide the very best education to students of all walks of life, to create and innovate new ways of learning, to be engines of economic development in their state and on a national level. We are confident that Dr. Killeen has what we need to make the University of Illinois an even greater institution than it is today.”
-- Pamela Strobel
Trustee and Co-chair of the presidential search committee
“Tim Killeen has a remarkable background, from award winning teaching and research at the University of Michigan, to leadership of the cutting edge National Center for Atmospheric Research, to the founding of the international Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability. Dr. Killeen’s passion for public higher education, coupled with an innovative and creative spirit, will propel our University into the future.”
-- Doug Beck
Professor and Co-chair of the presidential search committee
“I believe that I speak for my peers across all three campuses at the University of Illinois when I say that we are very excited about our selection for the next University of Illinois president. Dr. Killeen is a brilliant individual who clearly understands the role our university plays in advancing our state and our country, and who also has great insight into how to further our mission. I believe he will be a tremendous asset to our university moving forward.”
-- Danielle Leibowitz
Student Trustee and UIC senior
“I welcome Dr. Killeen with the greatest of enthusiasm and look forward to working with him and the University Senates Conference to maintain and strengthen our strong history and tradition of shared governance in the interest of the greater good of the University of Illinois and its campuses.”
-- Don Chambers
Professor and Chair of the University Senates Conference
“University of Illinois alumni, donors, and friends share a vested interest in the continued success of this great institution and we are extremely pleased to have attracted a renowned leader, scholar, and educator the caliber of Timothy Killeen as our next president. We particularly look forward to working together with President Killeen to enhance philanthropic support, so critical to advancing the University’s unsurpassed impact on the state, nation, and, indeed, the world.”
-- Roger L. Plummer
Chair, University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors
“It’s an exciting moment in our history for nearly 700,000 alumni to welcome President Designate Killeen to the University of Illinois family. The UI Alumni Association looks forward to working with Dr. Killeen to champion the University’s mission of public higher education in Illinois and throughout the world. Alumni will look to him to rally their enthusiasm around a strategic vision of excellence and innovation for the future of our Alma Mater, consistent with the finest traditions of this great institution.”
-- Mark Filip
Chairman, University of Illinois Alumni Association Board of Directors
Photo of President-elect Killeen is courtesy of the State University of New York (SUNY). Download high-rez image.
Requests for Interviews
To request a time to interview at a later date with the president-elect, please email Executive Director for University Relations Tom Hardy, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media coverage of the announcement of the 20th president of the University of Illinois is linked in below. Some papers require a subscription.