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Purdue engineering dean to be named new provost at Illinois

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor


Linda P.B. Katehi
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Photo courtesy Purdue University
Linda P.B. Katehi

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Linda P.B. Katehi, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering at Purdue University, will be named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its Jan. 19 meeting in Chicago, Katehi (kuh-TAY-hee) will begin her duties at Illinois on April 1.

U. of I. Chancellor Richard Herman said Katehi is a perfect choice for Illinois.

“She is engaging, quick and has experience with strategic planning. She has accomplished much in her time at Purdue and has a great deal of support there, as well as from those in the national community. We are enormously excited that she will be joining us in a leadership role.”

Katehi, a native of Greece, earned a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1977. She came to the U.S. in 1979 to study at the University of California at Los Angeles, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering there in 1981 and 1984.

Katehi began her academic career in 1984 as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, where she stayed for 18 years. Starting in 1994, she served in a succession of administrative roles in the College of Engineering, culminating with the position of associate dean for academic affairs from September 1999 through 2001.

In January 2002, she became the engineering dean at Purdue.

Katehi said she was attracted to the position at Illinois because of the university’s reputation and the opportunity to work with a new president and chancellor who are plotting the campus’s future course. “It is very exciting for me to become a member of this team and I look forward to participating in a very exciting future,” she said.

From her experience as a dean, which included work on a strategic plan and a capital campaign, Katehi said she learned that teamwork was “absolutely critical in moving an institution forward” and in encouraging new initiatives. “What I’ve learned is that a lot of great things can be accomplished when the disciplines work together,” she said.

Katehi said she hoped to foster an environment that encourages interdisciplinary research, innovation in the education of students, and diversity in a broad sense (intellectual, racial, cultural, gender, etc). “I’ve always felt that diversity is an attribute of quality, and the lack of it in a number of disciplines, at the end of the day, really harms the ability of those disciplines to achieve the quality they aspire to,” she said.

As provost, Katehi will be the chief academic and budget officer for the campus. In dealing with constrained budgets and competing demands, she stressed the need to stay focused, to set priorities “that we follow clearly and consistently,” and then to invest in the future.

Katehi’s honors include a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and a Humboldt Research Award. In 1995, she was named a fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and in 2002 received the Distinguished Educator Award from the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

Katehi also has received five best paper awards, including the Marconi Premium Prize in 2001 from the Institute of Electronic Engineers. She holds or has applied for 19 U.S. patents and has graduated 37 doctoral students. In 2004, she received the Leading Light Award for Women in High Tech from the state of Indiana.