Parker Executive Search Recruits 21st President for Illinois State University

May 31, 2024 – Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search has placed Aondover Tarhule as the 21st president of Illinois State University. Trustees also approved a four-year contract for Mr. Tarhule that will expire March 17, 2028. The transition to the new position takes place immediately following Mr. Tarhule’s year-long interim president appointment and a national search, led by a 29-member search committee composed of trustees, students, faculty, staff, and alumni. He starts his new role on July 1.

“The national search for the university’s next president was highly recommended through our shared governance partners, and the process was represented with a strong cross-section of stakeholders,” said Kathryn Bohn, Illinois State board of trustees chairperson. “The board of trustees determined that not only is Dr. Tarhule known to our campus community, but his strategic and visionary perspective helped him stand out in a very competitive field of candidates. He is an approachable leader who brings a high level of integrity, knowledge, and thought to conversations that will continue our institution’s 167-year legacy well into the future. I’m proud to say he’s earned our trust and the title of president.”

Mr. Tarhule was appointed interim president on February 17, 2023. He joined Illinois State University in 2020 as vice president for academic affairs and provost, also serving as a professor in the department of geography, geology, and the environment. Mr. Tarhule previously served as vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University (State University of New York) and was executive associate dean and department chair in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma. He is a prolific researcher and widely published scholar.

“Dr. Tarhule is a wonderful advocate for the values and students of Illinois State University,” said Eduardo Monk, Student Government Association president. “The Student Government Association is delighted to continue working alongside him for the betterment of our campus community. I am grateful towards the board of trustees for their transparent and inclusive search process.”

Adding to the Legacy

“It was an honor to serve on the Illinois State presidential search committee, representing the Civil Service Council,” said Justin Lawson, Civil Service Council member and Housing staff. I am confident that president Tarhule will be a great leader and continue to add to the legacy of our thriving University. I was quite impressed with his commitment to shared governance by actively engaging with and supporting faculty and staff professional development, as well as continuing the effort to recruit and retain a diverse faculty and staff. Additionally, his passion for our students’ success is unmeasurable; under his leadership, I know we will continue to increase our graduation rate and that he will keep our students top of mind with every decision he makes.” 

“Dr. Tarhule’s experience and operational knowledge stood out as he outlined our history, our current status on key issues, and his plan for our future,” said Tim Griffin, Illinois State University alumni board president. He understands the challenges and opportunities facing both higher education as a whole and those that specifically pertain to Illinois State, including campus housing, expansion of our nursing program, and the establishment of the College of Engineering. I believe Dr. Tarhule is prepared to move forward with the university’s current initiatives and improve both graduation and retention rates.”

Related: Parker Executive Search Assists Tennessee Recruit New Head Football Coach

“I must express my deepest appreciation to the board of trustees for entrusting me with this vital leadership role; your confidence in me is both humbling and inspiring,” said Mr. Tarhule. “To our community stakeholders, your faith and passion for all things Illinois State makes the Bloomington-Normal, surrounding area, and Illinois State communities unique. From the moment I stepped on campus to interview for the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs, the community’s investment and dedication to the success of Illinois State was clear and heartwarming. Under my leadership, Illinois State will remain visible, engaged, and a collaborative partner committed to improving the quality of life and enhancing the sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

Illinois State University is a public research university in Normal, Illinois. It was founded in 1857 and is the oldest public university in Illinois. The university emphasizes teaching and is recognized as one of the top ten largest producers of teachers in the US according to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Total on-campus enrollment is 20,233, with 17,674 undergraduate students, and 2,559 graduate students

Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities and collegiate athletics. The firm has a wide range of client schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham, University of Central Florida, University of Oregon, Clemson University, the University of Tennessee, and Iowa State University, among many others.

Daniel Parker is founder, vice president, and managing director. He leads the firm’s sports practice. He has worked on numerous corporate vice president searches, collegiate athletic director searches, and collegiate basketball, baseball and football head coach searches. In his role, Mr. Parker is also responsible for business development and candidate development.

Related: Parker Executive Search Assists LSU Recruit First African-American President  

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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