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Head of Iowa State's research park to head UI's

Becky Mabry, Administration Editor
(217) 244-1072;



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A businessman who has been in charge of the research park at Iowa State University has been selected to be the first director of the new University of Illinois research park.

John Parks, president and chief executive officer of the ISU Research Park in Ames since August 1997, has been selected for the UI position because of his demonstrated ability to shepherd the development and growth of a research center, according to Tony Waldrop, UI vice chancellor for research.

"We're absolutely delighted to get John Parks for this position," Waldrop said. "He already has demonstrated by his leadership at Iowa State that he will lead us forward in a very successful way. He was an overwhelming favorite among those involved in the selection process. Our developers were delighted with him, our board of trustees was delighted with him, as were our university administrators."

The UI research park is being developed in two locations. The south center is between St. Mary' Road and Windsor Road; the north center will be east of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Engineering Quad.

The companies that are expected to locate in the parks will interact with UI faculty members and students, providing opportunities for research advancements, jobs for UI graduates and others, as well as increased economic development for the area and other benefits for society.

In his position at Iowa State, Parks attracted 12 new companies and affiliates to the research park and oversaw the expansion of nine companies during a two-year period. A multi-tenant facility was built and leased during Parks' tenure at the ISU park, and he successfully pursued strategy that resulted in a substantial increase in cash flow for the enterprise.

Parks has a master's in business administration from ISU, as well as a bachelor's degree in finance. Parks worked to create or expand more than 100 companies in the past decade and served as the chief operating officer for Dasher Management Corp. In that position he was responsible for the operations and site-development, construction, marketing and business plans for seven restaurants with annual sales of $11.6 million. He has been a member of the Ames City Council since 1980.

Parks' appointment at the UI is effective Sept. 16, pending approval by the UI Board of Trustees, Waldrop said.