UI Presidential Search: Executive Vice President for the University of Illinois System Barbara Wilson named finalist

Wilson will visit campus on April 15-16 to meet with campus leaders and participate in a public forum at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. Wilson is the second of four finalists for the position


UI News Bureau: Stauffer

Contributed photo of Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president of academic affairs for the University of Illinois system.

Barbara Wilson, the executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System, will visit campus on Thursday as the second of four finalists for the University of Iowa presidency.

She oversees three universities in Illinois in Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana-Champaign that enroll more than 90,000 students. She has held her current position since 2016. She also supervises more than 6,000 faculty members and a budget of $6.74 billion. 

Alongside her work as executive vice president, Wilson is the moderator of the President’s Cabinet at the University of Illinois system and a member of the President’s Advancement Committee. 

Before joining the University of Illinois system in 2000, Wilson earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison between 1979 and 1985. Her background is in journalism and communication arts. She also was on the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara for 12 years.

Wilson served as interim chancellor for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2015 until 2016 before entering her current role as executive vice president. Among her achievements in this role, she led the philanthropic agenda for the university, raising $200 million in new gifts during fiscal year 2016.

Her areas of expertise include the social and psychological effects of the media, particularly in young people. She is the co-author of Children, Adolescents, and the Media, has authored three volumes of the National Television Violence Study, and has published dozens of scholarly articles, chapters, and book reviews on media effects and their implications for media policy.

While in her current role, Wilson serves as the primary liaison to the University of Illinois Systems Board of Trustees and leads two diversity and one sexual misconduct committee.

Wilson currently leads a new system-wide initiative to promote leadership opportunities for women in faculty positions and spearheads a $2 million initiative to celebrate the impact of the arts and humanities. She also focuses on recruitment of underrepresented minority faculty members.

RELATED: UI presidential search: Dean of Penn State Law Hari Osofsky named finalist

Current UI President Bruce Harreld announced his retirement in October 2020, opening up the search process for his successor. The initial pool of 80 candidates for the next top Hawkeye was narrowed down to four earlier this month. Following all four finalists visiting campus, the state Board of Regents is set to make a decision on April 30.

The regents named outgoing Graduate College Dean John Keller, co-chair of the presidential search committee, as interim president until the new president assumes duties either in late summer or early fall.

First finalist Hari Osofsky, dean of Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs, visited campus and held a forum on Monday.

The UI will hold a public forum with Wilson at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, where she will answer submitted questions from the 40 in-person attendees and online viewers. The livestream of the event will be on YouTube and questions can be submitted to the search committee online. Feedback for all candidates can be submitted until April 26 at 5 p.m.

Wilson is the second candidate to be named and each of the remaining two finalists will be announced at 8 a.m. the day before they are set to visit the UI. The next candidate will be announced on April 18.