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U of I System announces plan to recruit exceptional faculty
Three-year, $60 million initiative to attract world-class talent

May 11, 2017

SPRINGFIELD—The University of Illinois System will embark on a three-year, $60 million initiative to recruit world-class faculty to its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, President Tim Killeen announced Thursday.

The objective is to attract tenured, high-achieving faculty of national and international distinction in a broad range of academic and research disciplines who can help transform the three U of I universities because of their exceptional scholarship and teaching.

“This investment in exceptional faculty will, over time, pay dividends multifold by building up and reinforcing our ranks of world-class scholars and educators,” Killeen said. “We must—and shall—remain a magnet for stellar academic talent and this new effort reconfirms our long-standing commitment to continued excellence for the University of Illinois System.”

The President’s Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program will be funded by System Offices with matching funds from each of the universities. The offices of the president and the executive vice president will provide a total of $10 million each year, and the three universities will collectively match a total of $10 million per year for three years.

The funds are to be used for new faculty start-up costs such as purchase of equipment, renovation of space, graduate student support and other needs associated with supporting research and teaching of prominent faculty. Faculty salaries will not be covered. The goal is to recruit 10 to 15 “star faculty” each year, for a total of 45 System-wide in three years.

The program is contingent on full-year state funding of an appropriation for the U of I System for fiscal 2018 and subsequent years.

The universities may apply for matching funds to support the recruitment of rising star (associate or full) professors who are engaged in cutting-edge scholarship or creative activities, who are working in areas of high and/or emerging student demand and who are able to provide transformative excellence to college, university and System missions.  Emphasis also will be placed on faculty who enhance the diversity of departments and colleges at the three universities.

The president’s office will issue a call later this spring for faculty recruitment proposals for the following year. Each proposal will require support from the unit’s executive officer, the college dean and the provost of the respective university. Proposals will be evaluated by the president, executive vice president and the vice president for economic development and innovation.

Killeen said recruitment and retention of high-caliber faculty is essential to empowering the System’s strategic framework and its core pillars: being student focused; research and scholarship with global impact; a healthy future for Illinois and the Midwest; and being tomorrow’s university today.

He also noted that a faculty excellence fund for hiring “star” faculty in the highly competitive market of the nation’s top universities is included in the U of I Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment (IPAC), legislation that is pending in Springfield. Under the IPAC proposal, the state would commit to five years of funding and deregulation in return for U of I System commitments on enrollment, tuition and financial aid, diversity, and student success.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.