Richard Herman is the new chancellor for the Urbana campus. Herman had served as interim chancellor since June.
Photo by Kwame Ross
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Richard Herman, who has served as interim chancellor since June 2004, was named the next chancellor of the UI’s Urbana campus by President Joe White on April 19.
White’s announcement drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 100 or so members of the campus community who had assembled in the Illini Union’s Pine Lounge for the event.
The news came on the heels of a special meeting of the UI Board of Trustees April 16 in Chicago, at which the board considered three finalists for the position.
White said that Herman had “won the appointment in an energetic and thorough search that produced a strong field of candidates from across the nation and a superb group of finalists from top American universities.”
Members of the campus community as well as citizens of the Urbana and Champaign communities had voiced their strong support for Herman during the search for a new chancellor, White said.
“There’s no question that with the opportunities and challenges that lie before us we need a period of sustained, committed, high-aspirational leadership of this campus, and I am confident that Richard Herman will provide it,” White said. “I look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead to achieve great things for the University of Illinois.”
Board chair Lawrence Eppley said that the trustees “could not be more delighted that Richard Herman will be the new chancellor” and thanked Herman’s wife Susan “for her devotion to the campus over the last seven years” and her support for the arts.
Eppley also expressed gratitude to faculty member James D. Anderson, who led the search committee to recommend a new chancellor, and told the crowd that the board’s key criteria included identifying a leader who understands campus dynamics, someone who can roll up their sleeves and not wring their hands and who understands that a competitive advantage is a lot different than being competitive.
“Richard Herman fills it on all counts,” Eppley said.
However, Eppley drew laughter from the crowd when he said, “The bad news is he’s not very good at push-ups,” which Eppley said Herman performed in the chancellor’s box at Illini football games along with the cheerleaders whenever Illinois scored.
“But the good news is, Richard, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do it some more,” Eppley said.
Anderson commended the members of the search committee for their work and thanked Sue Sindelar, executive assistant to the president, for the support she provided to the committee.
“Because of their service the university has ended up with a great chancellor and a great future,” Anderson said. “The committee was extremely pleased with the quality of leaders that we were able to attract to this position. It was a talented field; a field that made competition really tough.”
Herman, who responded to the announcement in a voice sometimes choked with emotion, prefaced his remarks by saying that “to become chancellor of this great university is not my achievement, it is my privilege.”
“President White, Chairman Eppley and the board of trustees have awarded me a trust I will not break. I promise to them, to students and faculty, and to the people of Illinois that I will always give my highest and best effort and my highest and best judgment,” Herman said.
In a mass e-mail to the campus community following the announcement, White said, “Since I joined the University of Illinois in January, I have found Richard to be a talented leader who brings to the job a combination of integrity, intellect and passion. I have the utmost confidence he is the person best suited at this moment in our 138-year history to lead the university to continued greatness. The Board of Trustees is unanimous in sharing my confidence in Richard’s leadership capabilities. The Board will act on Richard’s appointment at its next scheduled meeting May 19 in Chicago.”
Richard Herman biography
Richard Herman, 63, has been interim chancellor of the Urbana campus since June 2004. He came to the UI in 1998 to be provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs – the campus’s chief academic officer.
From 1990 to 1998, he was dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was chair of the department of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University from 1986 to 1990.
As provost and then as interim chancellor, Herman has participated nationally in several higher education issues. He is a leader in national discussions of how to transform public research universities and the land-grant mission, first articulated in the mid-1850s, to meet the needs of the 21st century. In the National Council on Competitiveness and the National Innovation Initiative, Herman is active in mediating between the academic world and the national business community to maximize the contributions that research universities can make in preserving and extending U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.
Herman has played a role in discussion of national science policy with a stress on positioning the sciences to meet the emerging needs of society. His experience in science and education policy includes four years on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for the Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, including two years as its chair. He also served six years as chair of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, which advocates for mathematics research and education.
He is on the Carnegie-Mellon University Mellon College of Science Advisory Board and is a member of the Observatories Council, the Management Council of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., associated with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz.
Herman graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1963 and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1967.
Herman is a mathematician concentrating on mathematical physics and operator algebras. His research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NATO and the National Defense Education Act. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi honorary societies; he received an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship.
Herman and his wife, Susan, are active in Champaign-Urbana civic life. Susan Herman helped found the local arts council and he is on the boards of the United Way and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. The couple has three children and five grandchildren.