South Carolina educator named new UIC chancellor
Michael D. Amiridis, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, was named chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago Thursday, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees at its Jan. 15 meeting.
Amiridis, who has been a professor, researcher and senior administrator at South Carolina’s flagship campus for more than two decades, would succeed Paula Allen-Meares, who will return to the faculty after her six-year term as chancellor of Chicago’s largest university ends Jan. 15.
He would take office March 16. Until his arrival, Eric A. “Rick” Gislason, interim UIC vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, would serve as interim chancellor, pending Board of Trustees approval.
President Robert Easter said Amiridis’ extensive leadership experience in public higher education will help continue UIC’s rise as one of the nation’s premier urban research universities.
“Dr. Amiridis is an accomplished administrator on a flagship research campus, with a proven record of building academic and research excellence,” Easter said. “He also shares our vision that universities play a critical role in not only transforming the lives of students, but driving progress for our state and nation.”
Amiridis, who also would serve as a university vice president, said he is honored and humbled to be named the new chancellor of UIC, which he called “a model of a public urban research institution in this country, located in a most vibrant global city.”
“With its rich history of success in high-quality education, in generation and application of new knowledge, and in community engagement, access and inclusion, UIC is well positioned for the future,” Amiridis said.
“I’m looking forward to working tirelessly with all members of the academic and surrounding community as we develop new and innovative models of serving the needs of the city, the state and their citizens, while at the same time advancing the stature and reputation of our institution.”
Amiridis, 52, was chosen by Easter and president-elect Timothy L. Killeen from four finalists recommended by a campus-based advisory committee, which screened 55 candidates during its eight-month search.
As chancellor, he would head Chicago’s largest university campus, with more than 28,000 students and total research funding that ranked 57th among universities nationally in the most recent federal rankings and now exceeds $350 million. UIC has a nearly $2 billion budget, 12,000 faculty and staff, and 15 academic colleges, including the nation’s largest medical school. UIC also operates the state’s largest public medical center, along with a network of federally qualified clinics and regional health sciences campuses in Peoria, Rockford and Urbana-Champaign.
The chancellor is chief executive officer of the UIC campus and reports to the university president in a system that also includes campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield. Easter will retire as president on June 30, 2015, and Killeen was announced as the university’s 20th president in November, pending Board of Trustees approval in January.
“I am delighted that Michael Amiridis has accepted our offer to become the next chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago,” Killeen said. “I also want to thank Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares for her exemplary leadership over the past six years.
“Dr. Amiridis brings important qualities and experience to the University of Illinois and I am looking forward to working with him closely to expand yet further the many and diverse contributions of this great public urban research university.”
Since 2009, Amiridis has served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, where he oversees all academic functions on the university’s flagship campus and at four, two-year regional campuses. He shares responsibility for coordinating all budget and capital planning functions.
The Columbia campus is South Carolina’s most comprehensive educational institution with more than 320 degree programs in its 15 colleges and schools, including professional degrees in medicine and law. More than 32,000 students are enrolled this fall, including about 23,000 undergraduates.
The size of the freshman class has grown by 70 percent since 2002, and average SAT scores have increased by about 100 points from 2001 to 2013. The campus’s research portfolio exceeds $230 million.
As provost, Amiridis created an “academic dashboard” that helps chart the campus’s strategy for growth and excellence by comparing its performance to peer institutions in key areas such as enrollment, research funding, graduation rates and student-faculty ratios. He helped develop a plan that earned board of trustees funding for 200 new tenure and tenure-track positions.
Before being named provost, Amiridis was dean of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing from 2006 to 2009, and chair of the department of chemical engineering from 2002 to 2006. He joined the Columbia campus as a professor of chemical engineering in 1994.
Earlier, he was a research engineer for W.R. Grace and Co., an international manufacturer of specialty chemicals and materials; an engineer for North Aegean Petroleum Co., an energy company based in Greece; and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
A native of Greece and a U.S. citizen, Amiridis earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
His research interests focus on the synthesis and catalytic characterization of bimetallic nanoparticles with controlled composition and architecture. He has received more than $15 million in research funding as a principal investigator and more than $9 million as a co-investigator.
He earned the National Science Foundation’s award for early-career scientists and engineers in 1999, the University of South Carolina’s research achievement award in 2005, and the university’s Golden Key Award for Integration of Undergraduate Teaching and Research in 2000.
His work has resulted in more than 85 peer-reviewed journal publications and he received awards for teaching excellence at South Carolina and as a graduate instructor at Wisconsin.
Amiridis was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Engineering Education and the North American Catalysis Society.
He and his wife, Dr. Ero Aggelopoulou-Amiridis, have two children.
Amiridis would succeed Allen-Meares, who served as chancellor since 2009 and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Urbana campus. During her six years as chancellor, UIC’s enrollment increased by more than 2,000 students, and research funding grew by nearly 14 percent to more than $388 million.
Allen-Meares has overseen the creation of new programs, such as the bioengineering partnership between the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine. She launched the Faculty Discovery Fund-Chancellor’s Innovation Fund to support UIC research discoveries and seed investments in startups. She also has led initiatives to strengthen the diversity of UIC students and faculty.