test image

U of I board fills campus leadership positions
Trustees also advance capital projects in Chicago, Urbana 

July 24, 2014

CHICAGO, Ill. — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees filled several key leadership positions and extended the contracts of two other top officials Thursday during its regular meeting on the university’s Chicago campus.

Trustees also approved measures that will advance major construction projects on the Chicago and Urbana campuses, including the renovation of State Farm Center and the historic Natural History Building in Urbana.


The board appointed Avijit Ghosh as chief executive officer of the University of Illinois Hospital and associate vice president for hospital operations, effective Aug. 16.

Ghosh, who is currently senior advisor to U of I President Robert Easter, will head the university’s hospital and clinics in Chicago. A professor of business administration, Ghosh served as dean of Urbana’s College of Business from 2001-2008, and as the university’s vice president for technology and economic development from 2008-2011.

In his role as senior advisor to Easter, he also helped lead a recent review of the university’s health-care network that will align the hospital and clinics with health-related academic units and put the new unified organization under the oversight of the Chicago campus.

Ghosh earned his bachelor’s degree from Calcutta University, a post-graduate diploma in business management from Xavier Institute and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa. He will replace Brian Becker, who has resigned effective Aug. 15 for a new position at the University of Chicago.

Trustees also appointed Clark Stanford as dean of the College of Dentistry on the Chicago campus, effective Oct. 1.

Stanford is currently associate dean for research and a professor of prosthodontics at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. He joined the Iowa faculty in 1992, after earning a certificate in prosthodontics and a doctorate in cell biology from Iowa. He also received his bachelor’s and doctoral of dental science degrees from the Iowa City campus.

He will succeed Bruce Graham, who returned to faculty after 13 years as dean. G. William Knight, the college’s executive associate dean, has served as interim dean since January.

The board also approved a one-year contract extension for Illini men’s basketball coach John Groce, through April 30, 2019.

Groce joined the Illini in 2012 and his original five-year contract was also extended by a year – through April 30, 2018 – after his first season, when the Illini went 23-13 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite losing its two leading scorers and five of its top eight scorers overall, the team logged another 20-win season last year, finishing 20-15, and advanced to the second round of the NIT.

In the classroom, four players were named to the Academic All-Big Ten team in Groce’s two years as coach, and the team had a perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate score of 1,000 for 2013-14. Attendance at home games also increased, and ranked 15th nationally in 2013-14.

Trustees also appointed Barbara J. Wilson as the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on the Urbana campus.

Wilson, who is currently executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs in Urbana, joined the Urbana faculty in 2000 and served for seven years as head of the Department of Communications. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in communications arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, along with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

She succeeds Ruth Watkins, who resigned to become senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah. Brian Ross, a professor of psychology in Urbana since 1982, has served as interim dean of the college, the campus’s largest with 11,000 students and more than 60 departments and academic units.

Allen H. Renear was appointed dean of Urbana’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, effective Aug. 16.

Renear has served as interim dean since February 2012, and has been a member of the school’s faculty since 2001. He also has served as the school’s associate dean for research and has a faculty appointment in the department of philosophy. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Brown University.

He replaces John M. Unsworth, who resigned to become vice provost and chief information officer for library and technology services at Brandeis University.

The board also extended Robert J. Hauser’s term as dean of Urbana’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences by two years, through August 2016.

Hauser has served as dean since 2010, and joined the Urbana faculty in 1982 as a professor of agricultural and consumer economics. He earned his doctorate in agricultural economics and his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Iowa State University.

Sarah T. Lubienski was appointed interim dean of the Graduate College in Urbana, which provides leadership for graduate programs in more than 100 disciplinary areas. She began her new duties July 1.

Lubienski, a professor of curriculum and instruction who joined the Urbana faculty in 2004, has served as associate dean of the Graduate College since 2012. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University.

She replaces Deba Dutta, who resigned to become provost at Purdue University, and will serve during a nationwide search for a permanent dean.

Trustees also appointed Fritz Drasgow as dean of the School of Labor and Employment Relations on the Urbana campus.

Drasgow, who has served as interim dean since August 2013, has been a professor of labor and employment relations in Urbana since 1982 and holds a dual appointment as a professor of psychology. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Urbana campus.

He replaces Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, who returned to the faculty after six years as dean.

Capital projects

The board also approved several measures that will advance construction and building renovation projects on the Urbana and Chicago campuses. The board approved:

  • A $4.5 million increase in the project budget for renovation of State Farm Center in Urbana, which will cover additional costs for improvements that include a new scoreboard, video displays and a marquee outside the former Assembly Hall. The $169.5 million renovation will add luxury suites, expand the hall’s useable floor space to accommodate larger conventions and entertainment programs through a switch from fixed seating to retractable seating, and install air conditioning to allow for year-round sports and entertainment programming. Work is expected to be completed in November 2016, with yearly stoppages for basketball season.

  • Awarded contracts totaling nearly $8.5 million for the first phase of renovation of the Natural History Building on the Urbana campus. The $73.4 million project will modernize the historic building, which was built in 1894 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Structural problems forced the University to close almost half of the building in 2010 and move offices, labs and classrooms. The project is expected to be completed in August 2016.

  • Awarded a $3.7 million contract to BSA LifeStructures of Chicago to develop architectural and construction plans for the renovation of Urbana’s Everitt Laboratory, which will become the new home of the Department of Bioengineering. The $50 million project will renovate more than 124,000 square feet for instruction and research. Work is scheduled to begin in May 2016, and is expected to be completed by May 2018.

  • Awarded a $2.5 million contract to Chicago Commercial Construction for the first phase of a $3.9 million project that will replace grass with a synthetic surface on two softball and soccer fields that are used for intermural sports on the Chicago campus. Work is scheduled to begin this fall, and is expected to the completed in the spring of 2015. 


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 78,000 students, more than 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.