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Phyllis Wise named chancellor of U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois
August 8, 2011
Phyllis M. Wise, Ph.D., has been selected to become a Vice President of the University of Illinois and the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, effective Oct. 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its September meeting.

Wise has served in senior leadership roles at three major public research universities and is currently provost and executive vice president at the University of Washington, where she has served since 2005. During the just completed 2010-11 academic year, Wise was the interim president at the University of Washington. From 2002-2005, she was dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California-Davis.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. She has been awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from Swarthmore College.

University of Illinois President Michael J. Hogan praised Wise for her proven record of outstanding leadership, and for her scientific achievements, noting her membership in the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and her standing as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among her many honors and awards.

“Dr. Wise has the ‘full package,’” Hogan said. “She is a proven scholar, with a deep commitment to public higher education, and has an exceptional reputation as a leader at some of the nation’s top universities. I couldn’t be more pleased to have her joining our distinguished leadership team.”

Hogan also commended members of the search advisory committee, led by physics Professor Doug Beck. “They did a terrific job recruiting an outstanding pool of candidates and providing me with excellent advice,” Hogan said. “I’m grateful for their commitment to bringing an outstanding leader to our campus and for their hard work.” He added, “Dr. Wise is a world-class talent, who will be leading a world-class institution with world-class faculty, staff, and students.”

Wise said she is eager to get started. “I am thrilled to join the University of Illinois community in the role of vice president and chancellor,” Wise said. “The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the world. I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students, and the University’s many external stakeholders and partners, to build on its strengths and create new opportunities for the University to have an even greater impact.”

Pending Board of Trustees approval, Wise will hold a tenured faculty position in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and an appointment in the College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. She is author of more than 200 scientific publications with more than 30 continuous years of grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Board of Trustees Chair Christopher G. Kennedy said Wise’s selection will help make the University even better. “The entire University of Illinois family should be proud that Phyllis Wise has chosen to lead the Urbana campus. She has run an institution as large as the entire University of Illinois, and she’s a lead researcher among her peers who knows how to pursue research grants,” Kennedy said. “I think that this reinforces the Board’s view that a strong presidency results in strong chancellors, that strong chancellors result in strong deans, that strong deans result in stronger professors, and together they combine to attract stronger students in all respects. We now have an exceptionally strong chancellor in Urbana continuing that tradition.”

Earlier this year, Wise received the fifth annual Chang-Lin Tien Education Leadership Award, which recognizes the professional accomplishments and leadership of Asian Americans in higher education. Wise has earned accolades that acknowledge her lifelong dedication to mentoring students and junior investigators, particularly women. She was a recipient of the Excellence in Science Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award.
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