Earlier this month, UI President Michael J. Hogan named two prominent scholars from the university's Urbana and Chicago campuses as interim vice presidents, part of a senior administrative re-alignment approved by the UI Board of Trustees to streamline and strengthen the organization.
Hogan appointed Lawrence B. Schook to serve as interim vice president for research and Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia to serve as interim vice president for health affairs. The appointments are subject to trustees' approval at the March 23 board meeting on the Springfield campus.
Schook is a professor of animal sciences and serves as director of the Division of Biomedical Sciences at the Urbana campus, where 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 being the author of more than 200 publications and the editor of six books. He is the founding editor of Animal Biotechnology.
Garcia is vice chancellor for research at UIC and a professor in the College of Medicine. He joined UIC last February after four years as the 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 articles and 25 book chapters, Garcia 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. Garcia will continue to serve as UIC's vice chancellor for research.
Schook and Garcia will assume their interim responsibilities within the next month. Searches will begin within a year to fill both positions permanently.
The board of trustees approved changes to the senior administrative structure at a meeting last November. The goal in these and other actions is to further advance the UI as one of the nation's pre-eminent research universities. These two appointments, in particular, are designed to elevate the university's already distinguished record in research and clinical care to new heights of distinction, while utilizing existing resources as effectively as possible.
Several of the administrative changes recommended by the president's Administrative Review and Restructuring Group, have produced more than $5 million in savings.
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 responsibilities for the university's vast $725 million-a-year, externally funded research enterprise. The VP-research will promote collaborative research opportunities, streamline related policies and procedures, and act as a coherent, unified voice for UI research.
"It is a great honor to be asked by President Hogan to lead new efforts to coordinate the research enterprise across the university, in order to further enhance our competitiveness for external funding from foundations, the federal government and other sources," Schook said. "The university is well positioned to lead the nation in technology-based medicine and health care reform, addressing renewable energy needs, and ensuring human sustainability through nutrition, education, social programs, and arts and humanities."
The office of the vice president for health affairs was created in recognition 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, better connecting the clinical mission to the research and teaching missions and generating additional clinical revenue.
"I look forward to working with President Hogan on establishing synergies between and among the university's seven health science colleges in Chicago and across the state to create the University of Illinois Health Science Center and Health System," Garcia said. "The president's charge, which I accept, is to further improve our clinical care and link it more closely to our world-class research and teaching missions."
Biographies and photographs of Schook and Garcia, as well as background information on the administrative restructuring, may be found online.