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New chancellor gets official nod from trustees

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Paula Allen-Meares officially takes office as UIC’s next chancellor Jan. 16, but she’s already received warm welcomes from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and the Illinois House of Representatives.

At its July 24 meeting, the Board of Trustees made Allen-Meares’ appointment official in a unanimous vote.

Board chair Lawrence Eppley welcomed Allen-Meares back to the U of I community. Allen-Meares, currently dean of social work at the University of Michigan, received her master’s and Ph.D. at the Urbana-Champaign campus and was dean of the UIUC school of social work.

“We’re so very grateful to welcome her back into the University of Illinois family,” Eppley said before the board vote. “It will be great when she gets here.

Allen-Meares responded to the board’s well-wishes in a mass e-mail to the UIC community.

“I extend my most sincere thanks to the Board of Trustees for today’s vote approving me as the new chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and to President White and the search committee for the confidence they have shown in me,” Allen-Meares wrote.

“I truly believe I am taking on one of the best jobs in higher education in this country.”

The Illinois House recognized Allen-Meares’ appointment by honoring her with a special resolution.

“We congratulate Paula Allen-Meares on her appointment and look forward to the great things she will accomplish as chancellor,” the resolution stated.

Allen-Meares was selected from more than 100 candidates. A search committee chaired by UIC professor Elliot Kaufman interviewed a pool of 17 candidates over five days last spring. The final five candidates were interviewed by trustees.

“It was quite an event,” Kaufman, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, told trustees.

“Committee members were very motivated and wanted to see all of the best people in the field.”
Until she begins her duties as chancellor in January, Allen-Meares will transition from her role as dean and professor of social work at Michigan. She will spend this time writing articles and books, as well as continuing major research projects.

At Michigan, she was principal investigator of the Global Program on Youth, an initiative sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the National Institute of Mental Health’s Social Work Research Center on Poverty, Risk and Mental Health. She’s also principal investigator of the Skillman Good Neighbors Grant.

“I will be in close contact with campus leaders on a constant basis during this period,” she said in her e-mail to campus.

“I look forward to hitting the ground running when I arrive.”

Allen-Meares spent more than two decades at the Urbana-Champaign campus, from 1970 to 1993, as a graduate student, professor, then dean. Her social work expertise focuses on educational settings and adolescents.

She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a trustee of the New York Academy of Medicine.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., she received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Her husband, Henry Meares, is assistant dean for external relations at Michigan’s school of education. He and the couple’s three daughters are UIUC graduates.

Allen-Meares and her husband will live in the new UIC Chancellor’s Residence, a brownstone-style home on historic Jackson Boulevard bequeathed to the campus by the late Olga Jonasson, a longtime professor and surgeon.

Allen-Meares succeeds Sylvia Manning, who retired in December after serving as chancellor for eight years.

Interim chancellor Eric Gislason will remain in his post until January, when he plans to retire.

Allen-Meares said she’s excited to take over the role in January.

“UIC’s foundation is solid, our sights are set high, and our future is very bright,” she wrote.

“Ours is a university that makes a profound difference in the lives of many thousands of people in Chicago, Illinois and around the globe, and it will be a great privilege to join such a university as chancellor.”

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