College of LAS « Illinois

Feng Sheng Hu named Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS

Longtime professor and associate dean set to take leadership post on Jan. 1

Feng Sheng Hu, professor of plant biology and Ralph E. Grimm Professor in Geology, has been named Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS.
Feng Sheng Hu, professor of plant biology and Ralph E. Grimm Professor in Geology, has been named Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS.
An associate dean and accomplished professor has been selected to serve as the next Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Feng Sheng Hu, professor of plant biology and Ralph E. Grim Professor in Geology, will assume duties as dean on January 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He has served as a faculty member at Illinois since 1998, and as associate dean for life and physical sciences in LAS since 2014.

“An outstanding scholar who has amassed an impressive record in administration as the associate dean, professor Hu has direct familiarity with the issues facing the college and the campus,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Edward Feser. “He has great appreciation for the diversity of disciplines, pedagogies, and epistemologies of the college, and is an excellent communicator and an energetic advocate for LAS. I look forward to his leadership of LAS and on the Council of Deans.”

In addition to his role as associate dean, Hu is a highly regarded professor and researcher whose work integrates biology, geology, and atmospheric sciences, with the overall objective to understand long-term ecosystem dynamics under changing climatic conditions. Much of his research has occurred in arctic climates.

Hu has been recognized as a Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering, a University Scholar of the University of Illinois, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science. He has more than 100 publications and extensive research funding from federal agencies, including numerous grants from the National Science Foundation.

Approaching his 20th year at Illinois, Hu said he is deeply honored to serve as dean of the College of LAS, which he described as a leader in interdisciplinary scholarship, innovative teaching, and diversity and inclusivity. He added that it brings together world-class faculty across an “amazing breadth of disciplines” to prepare students for lives of impact.

“I eagerly anticipate working with all constituencies and stakeholders of the college to foster an environment where the highest standards of scholarship and teaching are performed,” he said.

Hu served as head of the Department of Plant Biology from 2008 to 2014. He has also served on the LAS Dean’s Strategic Advisory Committee and the Campus Budget Oversight Committee. In his position as associate dean, Hu worked with the college’s science departments to promote research, teaching, innovation, and public service.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Xiamen University in 1983. He earned a master’s degree in botany from the University of Maine in 1990, and a PhD in ecosystem science from the University of Washington in 1994.

Hu is the 17th dean of the College of LAS (excluding interim deans) since the college was formed in 1913, and the first with a background in plant biology and geology. He takes the position in place of Barbara J. Wilson, who left the post earlier this fall to serve as executive vice president and vice president of academic affairs of the three-university U of I System.

Martin Camargo, associate dean for humanities and interdisciplinary programs for LAS, served as interim dean prior to Hu’s selection. He will resume his duties as associate dean.

With 648 tenure-system faculty, LAS accounts for one-third of all faculty on the Urbana campus. LAS offers more than 70 majors; more than 99 percent of undergraduates on the Urbana campus take a class in LAS.

Dave Evensen

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