Killeen prepares to begin presidential term May 18

Timothy Killeen

“It’s remarkable how much you’ve been involved,” board chair Edward McMillan tells President-elect Timothy Killeen at the March 12 Board of Trustees meeting. Photo: L. Brian Stauffer


Timothy Killeen will officially become University of Illinois president May 18.

At the March 12 board of trustees meeting in Urbana, chair Edward McMillan said Killeen is already transitioning into the leadership position. “It’s remarkable how much you’ve been involved already,” McMillan told Killeen.

President Bob Easter’s last official day will be May 17.

McMillan and the board directed Killeen to begin developing a university-wide strategic plan to ensure the U. of I. meets future needs in fulfilling its missions of education, research, public service and economic development. Killeen said planning will begin soon and the process will be inclusive, with input from the three campuses and strategies from their own plans. The board asked Killeen to complete the plan within 12 to 18 months.

Killeen, who promised to update the board at the July 22 annual retreat, said the strategic planning process will have a strong student focus. “A lot of people will be called on to participate. The planning process will be inclusive,” he said, “a collaboration with our campuses that will forge a vision to guide our collective future.”

Killeen said there are untapped synergies the three campuses can develop to further the university’s mission and better serve the state’s citizens. “We must embrace those opportunities,” he said.



Walter Knorr, university chief financial officer, said university officials continue to work with state leaders on a range of issues after Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a state budget that would cut higher education funding by more than 30 percent.

The proposed cuts would reduce the university’s current $622 million appropriation to $453 million, making the level of state support the lowest since the 1950s in inflation-adjusted dollars. The state lags by more than $300 million in promised university aid to date and is around $6 billion behind in payments to vendors overall.

Knorr said the university’s financial position becomes murkier when considering legislative efforts to shift state-funded portions of health and retirement programs to the university’s books, as well as ongoing efforts to reduce the Medicaid rate, which contributed to a $7 million shortfall at UI Health.

“That’s going to be in play here this (legislative) session,” he said. “We’re probably going to be looking at some cost shifting.”

Students, too, are feeling pressure from the state budget crisis. Knorr said the Feb. 22 cutoff by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for the Monetary Award Program was the earliest it has ever been.

Knorr said the university can’t use its $2.3 billion endowment to blunt the proposed budget cuts because many of those funds are donor targeted and can’t be used as general revenue funds.



Ramon Cepeda

UIC graduate  Ramon Cepeda was appointed to a six-year term as  trustee.  Photo: L. Brian Stauffer

Ramon Cepeda, a 1990 UIC graduate in criminal justice, attended his first meeting as university trustee.

Rauner appointed Cepeda and Urbana graduate Jill Smart to six-year terms, filling the seats held by former board chairman Christopher Kennedy and Pamela Strobel, whose terms expired in January.

Cepeda, 47, a political independent from Darien, is senior vice president of Northern Trust Corp. in Chicago, where he oversees the commercial real estate group he created in 2010. He is managing director of Northern Trust’s wealth management division.

Smart, 55, a Republican from Downers Grove, is president of the National Academy of Human Resources, a nonprofit organization that recognizes institutions and individuals for achievement in human resources. She retired last year from Accenture in Chicago, where she was chief human resources officer. She graduated from the Urbana campus in 1981 with
a degree in business administration. She will be installed as trustee at the May 7 meeting.


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