Karen M. Whitney, a nationally recognized higher education leader, has been selected to serve as interim chancellor of the University of Illinois Springfield.
Whitney is the president emerita of Clarion University in Pennsylvania and recently served as interim chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She takes over from Chancellor Susan Koch, who has announced plans to retire from UIS effective June 30. Whitney’s appointment as interim-designate, pending approval by the Board of Trustees, is effective June 8, allowing her to work alongside Koch for a period before assuming the role of interim chancellor on July 1.
University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said Whitney will bring a wealth of relevant experience to UIS and its more than 4,200 students and more than 1,100 faculty and staff.
“Karen has deep experience working with higher education boards, administrative leaders and faculty, building consensus around common goals,” Killeen said. “At Clarion, she led an institution that is very similar to UIS in size, scope and mission. She is an ideal choice to build upon Susan’s work, which strengthened UIS and put it on the road toward becoming a regional force for progress.”
Whitney said she was excited to be selected to guide UIS as it searches for a permanent chancellor, particularly leading the university during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period she said only heightens the need for the kind of education UIS provides.
“I’m thrilled and honored to come to Springfield to lead a university at this incredible moment in time,” Whitney said. “I am drawn to the mission and vision of the institution, the way UIS has positioned itself to be the capital city’s university with an emphasis on leadership development – that is, I think, an extremely important role in American society today.”
A nationwide search for a permanent chancellor is expected to begin later this year. Whitney’s appointment is for one year or until a permanent chancellor is named.