Provost Fellows Program

The Provost Fellows Program provides academic leadership experience in key campus administrative roles for distinguished faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The program is designed to develop leadership skills at the campus level for some of our most accomplished tenured faculty. Fellows participate in a range of mentoring and learning opportunities, collaborate with colleagues in the Provost’s and Chancellor’s Offices and in other academic and administrative offices across campus, and assume leadership roles on critical campus strategic initiatives and projects, designed in conjunction with fellows’ individual interests and longer-range career goals.


The campus needs talented and well prepared leaders at all levels, from leaders within the Academic Senate, to department heads, to directors of centers and institutes, to deans and campus administrators. During doctoral training, the majority of academic preparation focuses intensely on research training and teaching experiences. Through the early years of career development, our faculty members pursue research, teaching and engagement activities, achieving at the highest levels in their disciplines and in path-breaking cross-disciplinary activities. Yet in all of these training and academic experiences, relatively few faculty members have opportunities for intense and focused learning opportunities that center on the development of leadership skills. In our academic communities, many scholars move to leadership roles with minimal background or training for the range of responsibilities and opportunities that they will face. Newly appointed leaders often fìnd that they must acquire deeper knowledge of the institution, of higher education processes, and of leadership and management skills at precisely the time they are asked to perform and succeed in their new role.

About the Program

We have relatively limited opportunities for talented faculty to explore the possibility of leadership roles, and to learn about leadership at the campus level. We participate in the CIC’s Academic Leadership Program; approximately five high-potential faculty take part in a series of three interconnected seminars each year, each seminar occurring over a three-day period and emphasizing a specific topic, such as human resources and leadership, budget and resource management, and the future of the public research university. We also convene our own Academic Leadership Seminar Series, which consists of open meetings for new and veteran department heads, on a range of topics related to leading and managing an academic unit (e.g., promotion and tenure processes, budget and resource planning). Finally, a small number of Illinois department heads participate in periodic Department Executive Officer Seminars for unit executive officers, organized and offered through the CIC. The Provost Fellows Program aims to complement our current portfolio of leadership learning opportunities by providing a more intense and focused experience that embeds high-talent, high-potential faculty members in leadership and administrative contexts at the campus level. The program provides leadership opportunities to distinguished faculty, resulting in an improved ability to retain successful leaders who can and will help the institution achieve its strategic goals.

As part of the program, fellows will become familiar with campuswide academic initiatives, strategic planning, budget issues, and challenges in higher education. In addition, fellows make direct contributions to the Provost’s Office and/or Chancellor’s Office by taking on special projects and assisting in more routine activities. The goal of the program is to provide exceptional faculty members with a more expansive range of leadership experiences at the campus level. As part of this experience, fellows participate in a range of learning opportunities, including serving as a member of the Provost’s staff. In addition, each fellow works with a primary mentor in the Provost’s Office.

Fellows normally participate in the CIC Academic Leadership Program during their appointment. Fellows also will participate in the Provost’s Staff Meeting, which typically occurs on a monthly basis.


Fellows will have 50% FTE appointments in leadership roles in the Provost’s Office, maintaining 50% appointments in their home units during this time. The Provost’s Office will work with each fellow’s home academic unit to provide teaching release during the appointment. The appointment is for one year, though a semester or one-year extension is possible if warranted. Fellows are provided some funding to continue their involvement during the summer. Fellows also will be provided a modest discretionary travel and/or training budget. These resources can be used to fund activities on campus, to learn about organizational and leadership structures and processes at other institutions of higher education, to participate in formal training opportunities, and to attend relevant conferences in higher education.

Areas of Focus for Fellow Appointments

Each Fellow will be identified with a particular area of strategic importance within the purview of the Provost’s and/or Chancellor’s Offices, such as undergraduate education, budget and resource planning, diversity, or faculty development. Examples of areas include:

  • Undergraduate Education: portfolio will include activities such as developing, implementing, and monitoring strategic initiatives to provide excellence in undergraduate education; leadership in standing committees such as the Living Learning Advisory Board, General Education Board, and Teaching Advancement Board; and participating in decision making related to the undergraduate education arena
  • Faculty Development and Retention: portfolio will include assessing promotion and tenure processes; supporting initiatives related to faculty recruitment and retention; initiating activities to support faculty development; and/or assessing faculty mentoring activities
  • Campus Diversity: portfolio will include activities such as initiatives to assess and improve the campus environment; programs to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, staff and student population; initiatives to promote student retention and graduation rates; participation and leadership in standing committees such as the Diversity Committee; and campus connections with community entities
  • Interdisciplinary Programs: portfolio will include assessing the strengths and barriers to interdisciplinary scholarship and education in our current campus system; leadership of committees and task forces to design system and process changes that facilitate interdisciplinary scholarship and instruction; and participation in decision making related to interdisciplinary efforts on campus
  • International Programs: portfolio will include assessing opportunities and programs related to international partnerships and degree programs; establishing synergies between international partners and campus academic units; facilitating new structures to support international programs; and participation in campus committees charged with international affairs

Nomination and Selection Process

Learn more about the nomination and selection process for Provost Fellow appointments.

Current Provost Fellows

Previous Provost Fellows