City Club of Chicago: University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen
June 6, 2018
Timothy Killeen – President – University of Illinois
Timothy L. Killeen took office as the 20th president of the University of Illinois on May 18, 2015, bringing more than three decades of experience as an educator, researcher, and administrator in public higher education and in leadership positions with national scientific research agencies.
In the first months of his presidency, Killeen led the development of an ambitious new Strategic Framework to guide the U of I System and its universities in Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana-Champaign. Enrollment has since grown to a record 83,000-plus students across the System and its faculty have been chosen to lead important research projects from healthcare to cybersecurity.
Under his leadership, the U of I System also has proposed a groundbreaking new partnership with the state of Illinois to support its efforts to transform the lives of students and drive economic growth. The proposal would restore predictable funding in exchange for tangible contributions that serve students and the state, such as holding down tuition and maintaining high student retention and graduation rates.
Before joining the U of I System, Killeen served as vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Foundation at the State University of New York (SUNY), one of the nation’s largest higher education systems. In his dual role, he was at the center of SUNY’s strategy for research growth.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007, and is a member and past president of the American Geophysical Union; a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He has authored more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, along with more than 300 other publications and papers.
A leading researcher in geophysics and space sciences, Killeen received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at University College London, where he earned his doctoral degree in atomic and molecular physics at the age of 23. Killeen’s wife, Roberta M. Johnson, holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in geophysics and space physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. The Killeens have three children.