Nicholas Jones named executive vice president of U of I System

11/10/2022 8:43:32 AM

Nicholas P. Jones
Nicholas P. Jones

Former department head Nicholas P. Jones has been appointed as the new executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs of the University of Illinois System. He will serve as second-in-command to the president, senior operating officer and chief academic officer of Illinois’ flagship university system.

Jones served as head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2002-04. Now, he comes to the U of I System from Pennsylvania State University, where he is a special advisor to the president after serving as executive vice president and provost for nine years, beginning in 2013. Pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, expected at the board’s meeting on Nov. 17, Jones will begin his new role on Jan. 3, 2023.

Jones will replace Avijit Ghosh, who plans to retire after serving as interim executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs since July 2021.

President Tim Killeen said Jones’ experience as a leader in both academic and budget matters at Penn State makes him the ideal person to assume his new role at the U of I System.

“Nicholas Jones brings to his new role here decades of leadership experience and a deep understanding of how to foster excellence at scale across a multi-university system. I’m pleased he has agreed to join us and look forward to working together for the people of Illinois,” Killeen said. “I also want to express my deepest gratitude to Avijit Ghosh for his decades of service and leadership to the University of Illinois System. He has been a trusted colleague and is a dear friend.”

Jones said he is honored to join the U of I System two decades after serving as head of CEE at Illinois.

“The University of Illinois System is a leader in public higher education, opening doors to opportunity and helping to meet the economic and social challenges facing this great state,” Jones said. “I believe the U of I System is poised to serve as a transformative and defining trailblazer, a change agent. I look forward to helping these three extraordinary universities thrive in the years ahead.”

Ghosh congratulated Jones.

“Nicholas Jones brings with him a long track record of innovation and a vision that has helped elevate Penn State. Because of his role as chief academic officer there, he is well suited to maintain and enhance the high quality of education and research found across the U of I System,” Ghosh said. “He will serve the students, faculty and staff at our universities well.” 

As Penn State’s chief academic officer, Jones oversaw all academic units, including colleges, schools and 24 campuses, as well as major academic support units. He led the development of the strategic plan that guides the university system today, provided direction during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked to strategically align resources in his role as Penn State’s lead budget executive.

Prior to joining Penn State, Jones served as the Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University from 2008.

Jones received his PhD in civil engineering in 1986 and his master’s degree in 1981, both from the California Institute of Technology. He completed his undergraduate work at The University of Auckland in New Zealand.