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updated: 7/12/2014 4:40 PM

U of I speeding up search for new president

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Associated Press

URBANA, Ill. -- University of Illinois officials are speeding up the search for a new president, saying they now hope to select someone before Thanksgiving.

The presidential search committee wants President Robert Easter's successor in place in time to hire a new chancellor for the university's Chicago campus, the News-Gazette in Champaign reported.

Easter, who has been president since 2012, is set to retire in June of next year. University officials originally said they wanted to select his replacement by the end of this year so the new president would have time to transition into the post before Easter leaves.

But University of Illinois-Chicago Chancellor Paula Meares' decision to step down in January is accelerating the search, said university Trustee Pam Strobel, who is a co-chairman of the search committee. She said trustees decided the president's search should be "on a parallel path so we can have the president pick the chancellor."

Easter also told the committee Friday that the next president shouldn't try to run each campus and that chancellors should have the authority to act on faculty and other matters. He also said the growth of the Chicago campus will be a major factor for his successor.

The university also has a campus in Springfield, and Easter said he has struggled throughout his tenure to find the right mix of time to spend in each campus.

"The president has to understand that the university is more than Champaign-Urbana," and that each campus has a unique culture and history and strategic needs, Easter said.

He also recommended that his successor have an academic background, experience at a top university, familiarity with Illinois and "substantial global experience."

The search committee is scheduled to meet Aug. 20 and Sept. 17.

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