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Walter Knorr to retire from U of I System
National search to begin for new vice president/CFO

June 9, 2017

URBANA – Walter K. Knorr will retire from the University of Illinois System on August 31 after more than a decade as vice president, chief financial officer and comptroller, President Tim Killeen announced Friday.

In his role, Knorr is responsible for all financial functions, including working with the executive vice president to develop and implement an annual budget that has grown from $3.6 billion to $5.7 billion since he joined the three-university system in 2007.

Killeen said Knorr’s leadership has helped the U of I System flourish despite the collapse of U.S. financial markets in 2008, and an ongoing budget impasse in Illinois that has reduced state funding by nearly $765 million over the last two years.

“Walt has been a key member of a team that has steered the U of I System through the deepest financial downturn since the Great Depression and an unprecedented shortfall in state support and delays in payment,” Killeen said. “His careful and innovative financial management has helped maintain our excellence and has routinely earned praise from credit rating agencies.”

Killeen said an interim vice president/CFO will be named later and will serve during a national search for a permanent successor.

Knorr, 67, served a combined 20 years as chief fiscal officer for the City of Chicago and for Cook County before joining the U of I System. His private-sector experience includes investment banking and public accounting.  

He earned a reputation as an innovative municipal finance expert during a career with the City of Chicago from 1982 to 2002, where he served as chief financial officer and comptroller under Mayor Richard M. Daley and the late Mayor Harold Washington.

Knorr later was a managing director with Citigroup Capital Markets, but returned to the public sector in 2004, serving as comptroller for Cook County until he joined the U of I System in 2007.
Knorr received a bachelor’s degree in business from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and is a certified public accountant. He and his wife, Terry, live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and are the parents of two grown children.
The University System’s chief financial officer is also comptroller of the Board of Trustees and has management oversight and responsibility for all financial functions and oversees all revenues, costs, capital expenditures, investments and debt.

The vice president/CFO also serves as treasurer of the University of Illinois Foundation as well as five other University-related organizations and is an ex officio member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association Board of Directors.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and 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 System awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.