Administrator leaves legacy of campus improvements

Mark Donovan

Mark Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

When Mark Donovan answered a blind ad in the Chicago Tribune more than 30 years ago, he didn’t know it would be the start of his longtime career at UIC.

“It said ‘facility manager, experience with building maintenance, union rules.’ It probably wasn’t more than four or five lines,” said Donovan, who, at the time, was on a job hunt after working for the City of Chicago and O’Hare International Airport.

In the end, it was a good fit. Donovan was hired, and for more than three decades, he would push the UIC community forward. After 33 years of service, Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services, will be taking a step back.

On March 28, the UIC community thanks Donovan for his contributions as vice chancellor for administrative services at a farewell reception. On March 31, he retires.

“Mark has served our university with distinction and dedication for 33 years,” wrote Chancellor Michael Amiridis in an official announcement. “His commitment to UIC is distinguishable by his loyalty to our institution, his 24/7 work week ethic, and his unfiltered candor and deep appreciation for the unique nuances of UIC.”

Since 1984, Donovan’s contributions, which have included improving safety, entertainment options, residential life and athletic facilities, have helped to develop UIC’s south campus. On the east side, Donovan helped make possible renovations and re-openings of LEED-certified Grant, Douglas and Lincoln halls. He’s also reintroduced and reinvigorated the UIC Campus Utilities Master Plan and three UIC Campus Master Plans.

Among the many campus improvement initiatives that he has been part of — from repairing infrastructures and renovating existing spaces to reducing the use of leased space and improving accessibility to campus buildings — his favorite has been making UIC a more beautiful place.

“The Memorial Grove around Taylor and Morgan, I think, from a personal point, that was one of the things I enjoyed doing the most,” he said. “Before, you would look out and there’d be hardly any tree canopies over campus. Now, you stand up here, look out and see these huge trees.”

His most rewarding experience? Supporting student athletes.

“He’s been very instrumental over the years,” said Rick Harrigan, associate athletic director, who noted that since 2011, student-athletes have received more than a half-million dollars in scholarships thanks to golf outing fundraisers led by Donovan. “We’re going to miss him.”

But Donovan knows he’s leaving the university in good hands — he stayed two years past his intended retirement date to make sure of that.

“I’m very excited about the leadership team with Chancellor Amiridis, Provost Susan Poser, Vice Chancellor Robert Barish and the Interim Vice Chancellor Rex Tolliver,” he said. “They’re incredibly bright people who have a vision and experiences that are going to take us a long way.”

Donovan plans to travel, hunt, and spend time with friends and family. But he won’t stay away from UIC for too long.

“I plan to be back at basketball games, baseball games, women’s softball, soccer and anything else they invite me to,” Donovan said. “I’ll come back here a lot and watch the campus grow.”

Michael Landek, executive associate vice chancellor for administrative services, will serve as interim vice chancellor for administrative services.

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