CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eunice Santos will become the dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign effective Aug. 16, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Andreas C. Cangellaris, the vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, recommended the appointment to Chancellor Robert Jones after the conclusion of a yearlong national search.
Currently the Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair and Professor of Computer Science and the chair of the department of computer science at the Chicago-based Illinois Institute of Technology, Santos is a renowned scholar in computational social systems including social networks analysis and socio-cultural modeling. She is the recipient of multiple research awards including the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Computer Society Technical Achievement award and the IEEE Big Data Security Woman of Achievement award.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Santos has served as the director and principal investigator of many federal research centers and programs. Her work has led to significant insights related to community resilience, disaster response, and belief and opinion change.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity to further advance our global leadership in the information sciences and more fully realize our mission in the world,” said Allen Renear, the current iSchool dean who will return to a faculty role in August. “Professor Santos is an inventive, committed scholar and an exceptionally creative and entrepreneurial academic leader; there is no one better prepared to lead our rapidly growing school and ensure that we engage the challenges that face our society.”
Santos earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in both mathematics and computer science.
Santos joined IIT in 2015 and led a number of significant departmental advances, including creating or expanding new education programs in data science, cybersecurity, bioinformatics, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, designtech and decision sciences; and expanding K-12 outreach and diversity programs. She also doubled the department’s physical space to allow for expansion, led the department strategic plan and secured support from the IIT administration to implement a faculty growth plan. Also under her leadership, the department raised roughly $10 million in philanthropic support for student scholarships, faculty chairs and research facility improvements.
“I am confident that professor Santos will strengthen, diversify and amplify our top-ranked iSchool’s excellence and leadership in this century of digital transformation,” Cangellaris said. “Her experience leading federally funded research initiatives in the use of computational social science to understand the behavior of social networks and communities will further advance the iSchool and university reputations as national leaders in information and data sciences.”