Starting July 1, Robinson will fill the role for one year while a national search is conducted for the dean’s position. Robinson is taking the place of Feng Sheng Hu, the current Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, who is leaving to become dean of Arts & Sciences at Washington University.
Robinson is a world-renowned scholar and teacher who brings more than three decades of experience as a faculty member, academic leader, and university administrator at Illinois. He is a Swanlund Chair and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture. His new role is pending approval by the Board of Trustees.
"I am honored to be chosen to be interim dean,” Robinson said. “I know that by working with our amazing faculty, staff, and students we will all be able to creatively rise to the unprecedented challenges of the year and together move forward to reach new heights in education, research, scholarship, and public engagement."
Andreas C. Cangellaris, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of the University of Illinois, said that the search for a permanent dean will launch this summer, and Robinson will return to his duties as director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) in 2021. Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, will serve as acting director of IGB.
“Please join me in welcoming Professor Robinson as the interim dean of LAS. I am confident that he will have the full support of his colleagues and that under his leadership, your college will continue to advance in its academic and scholarly missions with the optimism and confidence these unprecedented times demand,” Cangellaris said in an announcement to campus.
Cangellaris also praised Hu, a professor of plant biology and the Ralph E. Grim Professor in Geology, who served as dean since 2016. Prior to that, Hu served as head of the Department of Plant Biology from 2008-2014 and associate dean for life and physical sciences from 2014-2016.
“I want to thank Dean Feng Sheng Hu for his leadership of LAS and his long faculty service to his college and university,” Cangellaris said. “I am deeply appreciative of his efforts over these final months of his Illinois tenure to help us navigate the unprecedented challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.”