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Richard Herman

Richard Herman

Chancellor, 2005-09 | Professor of math, education

It’s people, not places, that come to mind first when Richard Herman reflects on his five-plus years in charge of the Urbana campus.

“The list of superb thinkers across the breadth of the institution is large and many left lasting impressions, influencing my actions both as provost and chancellor," he says. "At the obvious risk of leaving out so many names, let me remark on but two.

“One is Carl Richard Woese, who many believe was the greatest evolutionary biologist of the last century. There was a bond between us which neither could fully explain.

"In fact, Carl wrote pretty much that in a note to me, saying that he did not fully understand our friendship but he chose not to explore the reason and to just accept, and enjoy it.

“So when this unremarkable-looking man in his lumberjack shirt, slouching like a comma in the chair, suggested that I listen carefully to those who were advocating for what is now the stunning Institute for Genomic Biology, I did just that.

“The second is both a place and a person but more importantly, a soulful part of Illinois. They would be the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and its brilliant director, Mike Ross. (That's Ross with Herman in the photo engaging in a friendly game of Guitar Hero prior to 2007 Wall to Wall Guitar Festival).

“Yes, the sound in the Great Hall is second to none. It is one of the drawing factors  for the great list of artists that have performed here.

“But more than that, it is a site for the opening of, and collaborative creating of, great works. The campus and the community have been blessed by a constant stream of challenging and striking performances that would make urban dwellers jealous.

“We all know that without Krannert, many would not be at the university. At the same time, its creative geist has it standing side by side our best academic units.”