CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois has hired a top administrator from a State University of New York campus who has a background in agricultural research to be the new chancellor at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus.
Robert J. Jones was named chancellor pending formal approval by the board of trustees on Thursday, according to a University of Illinois news release Tuesday.
Jones, the president of the University at Albany-SUNY, is the first black chancellor of the university’s flagship campus and called his new role his “dream job.”
“I have the land-grant mission in my blood. I am a product of it. It is what brought me into higher education, from a sharecropping family in Georgia,” the 65-year-old said in the release.
University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, who came to the university from SUNY, praised Jones’ academic and life experience.
“A distinguished scholar in the agricultural sciences, and a thoughtful and visionary leader in public higher education, with an exemplary record of accomplishment as a sitting university president for a research-intensive public university, he is simply ideally qualified to lead our institution into the future,” Killeen said.
Jones, who has been at SUNY since 2013 after spending 34 years at the University of Minnesota, will also be the vice president of the University of Illinois system, which also includes campuses in Chicago and Springfield.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master’s degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Jones takes over for interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson, who held the job since Phyllis Wise resigned in August amid a series of problems on campus. Those included the firing of football coach Tim Beckman over alleged mistreatment of players and her own use of private emails to discuss university business.