February 02, 2011

Dear Faculty, staff and students,

Our Board of Trustees in November adopted a critical realignment of the University's administrative structure, one intended to make our organization more cohesive, to strengthen our hand in grappling with chronically difficult financial conditions and, ultimately, to sustain the University of Illinois' greatness for future generations. The restructuring followed months of collective self-examination, deliberation and consultation among faculty, students, staff, our trustees and me. I deeply appreciate the work of everyone involved.

I am pleased today to announce the appointments of two outstanding individuals—each one an exemplar of the excellence of the University of Illinois—to key roles as part of the restructuring process. They are:


  • As interim Vice President for Research, Professor Lawrence B. Schook, Director of the Division of Biomedical Sciences at the Urbana-Champaign campus. Larry is an internationally renowned scholar in genomics with significant leadership experience in building strategic alliances and in winning tens of millions of dollars in competitively awarded research grants.
  • As interim Vice President for Health Affairs, Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Research and a professor in the College of Medicine at the Chicago campus. A physician-scientist with an esteemed international reputation for his expertise in lung disease and its prevention, Skip came to UIC a year ago with a broad range of clinical and research leadership experience. Skip also has a strong track record for attracting research funding.

Biographies of Larry Schook and Skip Garcia, as well as background information on the administrative realignment, may be found at http://www.uillinois.edu/our/news/2011/Feb2.VP.links.cfm.

We can be proud that the University of Illinois has within its faculty and administration scholars as capable as Larry Schook and Skip Garcia to step into these roles at such a crucial time for the University. Skip will move into his interim position Feb. 16, and Larry will move into his on March 1, subject to Board of Trustees formal approval in March. The University will conduct searches within the next year to fill both positions permanently.

As you may recall when our trustees approved these positions, the goal was, first and foremost, to improve our research and clinical health care missions, in part by establishing better cooperation and coordination across the three campuses. The changes followed recommendations made in last year's Administrative Review and Restructuring (ARR) report.

The office of the vice president for research was established by re-titling the vice president for technology and economic development and expanding into that portfolio important responsibilities for the University's vast $725 million-a-year, externally funded research enterprise. The VP-Research will facilitate collaborative research opportunities, streamline related policies and procedures, and act as a coherent, unified voice for U of I research.

Larry is the Gutgsell Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences on the Urbana campus. As the Director of the Division of Biomedical Sciences, he is responsible for directing strategic alliances related to health research and leading the Illinois Health Sciences Initiative that coordinates Urbana campus research and educational programs. He holds joint appointments in bioengineering, nutritional sciences, and in pathology, part of the UIC College of Medicine, and has faculty appointments with the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His scholarly activities include authoring more than 200 publications and editing six books. He is the founding editor of Animal Biotechnology.

After three years of excellent service as vice president for technology and economic development, Avijit Ghosh will move into the role of special assistant to the president, an important function interim President Stan Ikenberry temporarily performed until his recent return to the faculty. Avijit will assist in the vice president's office transition to VP-Research and in the implementation of the cost-saving measures recommended by the ARR working group.

The office of the vice president for health affairs was created in recognition of the fact that while most of the clinical health care enterprise, which accounts for about one-third of the University's operating budget, is housed at UIC, it extends throughout the university and most of Illinois. The VP-Health Affairs reports directly to the president with a secondary reporting relationship to the UIC vice president/chancellor. Responsibilities include oversight of the University's hospital, long overdue for renovation; connecting better the clinical mission to the research and teaching missions; and generating additional clinical revenue.

Skip joined UIC last February after four years as chair of the department of Medicine at the University of Chicago. At UIC, he is the Earl M. Bane Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Bioengineering. The author or co-author of nearly 350 peer-reviewed publications and 25 book chapters, Skip is internationally recognized for his expertise on the genetic basis of lung disease and the prevention and treatment of inflammatory lung injury, especially in susceptible populations such as African Americans and Latinos. Several of his approaches to prevent vascular leak have been patented. He is a passionate advocate for the training of physician scientists and is an active supporter of minority medical and science students. Skip will continue to serve as UIC's Vice Chancellor for Research.

Please join me in welcoming Larry and Skip, and thanking them for their willingness to take on these important new responsibilities.



Mike Hogan