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Presidential Fellows Program

The Presidential Fellows Program is sponsored by the Office of the President of the University of Illinois System. This program is designed to stimulate and facilitate projects by faculty members from across the System to help realize institutional goals. The faculty selected by the president as Fellows will work in close collaboration with the Office of the President and other System and university offices to develop projects that enhance the academic, research, economic development, and civic engagement missions of the System. As a part of the program, Fellows will become familiar with System-wide academic initiatives, strategic planning, budget issues and broader challenges in higher education. In addition, Fellows will make direct contributions to the U of I System by taking on special projects and providing guidance on various topics that align with their own academic and research interests. As part of this experience, Fellows may be asked to participate in a range of service and learning opportunities.

Program Goals

The Fellowship program has several overarching goals:

  • To further the U of I System’s mission by providing leadership on critical strategic initiatives and projects.
  • To provide faculty members with expansive leadership and development opportunities at the System level.
  • To provide the president, executive vice president and senior System leadership with faculty perspectives on a broad range of issues.

Fellowship Opportunities

Fellowship opportunities will align with goals in the System’s strategic framework, entitled The Public’s University: Optimizing Impact for the Public Good, a roadmap to the future that reaffirms the central role higher education can play in promoting the public good in the state and beyond. The framework pledges to build on the System’s strengths by channeling its world-class resources over the next decade to achieve high-aspiration goals outlined under four strategic pillars:

  • An Institution of and for Our Students
  • Research and Scholarship with Global Impact
  • A Healthy Future for Illinois and the Midwest
  • Tomorrow’s University Today

Presidential Fellows’ projects/assignments will be focused on activities that relate to the key strategic areas outlined within the four strategic pillars of the framework. Such projects might include, but are not limited to, changes in academic offerings, effective technology that might be incorporated in several courses and shared with colleagues, substantive work on a major research project or performance or a substantive idea that would improve an existing initiative/program, or create something new to support the University community.

Presidential Fellows will be expected to work in collaboration with the president, executive vice president and other System and university colleagues. Fellows will be expected to develop strong working relationships within the System community and with potential external stakeholders and other educational institutions and associations.


To be considered, prospective Fellows must:

  • Be a full-time faculty member in the U of I System. Prior leadership experience is preferred, but not required.
  • Have a proven track record of scholarly activities.
  • Have a record of team building between various System constituencies and the larger community and a commitment to shared governance.
  • Have an understanding of contemporary public higher education.

Length of Appointment and Conditions

The precise terms and conditions of the Fellowship will be negotiated individually with the Fellow’s university to accommodate the individual appointments of each participating faculty member and the varying administrative/governance structures across the University.

Nature and Length of Appointment

The Presidential Fellowship is funded by the Office of the President. The time commitment can vary from four to 20 hours per week depending on the nature of each project. The length of the Presidential Fellowship appointments may be a full academic year, full calendar year, or other 12-month period based on the particular project. An extension of up to one year may be possible, as projects warrant.

Past Presidential Fellows

James D. Anderson, Urbana-Champaign
Farhad Ansari, Chicago

Antoinette Burton, Urbana-Champaign
Adriana Crocker, Springfield
Benet DeBerry-Spence, Chicago

Elvira de Mejia, Urbana-Champaign
Wendy Heller, Urbana-Champaign
Prasanta Kalita, Urbana-Champaign
Lisa Lee, Chicago
Jeffrey Loeb, Chicago
Andy Singer, Urbana-Champaign
Don Wuebbles, Urbana-Champaign

Visit the Presidential Staff page for current fellows.