NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — On Friday the Illinois State University’s Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Aondover Tarhule as Interim President. Tarhule joined the university as the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Provost July 2020.
“I am humbled that Board of Trustees has asked me to serve as interim president,” said Tarhule.
Friday’s decision comes after the departure of Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy, who resigned as the first female president of the university. The announcement of her departure was made Wednesday in a statement saying she officially resigned on Tuesday.
“It has been an honor to serve the Illinois State University community as its 20th President. I have appreciated the opportunity to engage with Illinois State students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. At this time, I intend to pursue other opportunities,” she said in a press release.
The transition came as a surprise to Tarhule.
“Things happened very quickly. As I’ve said many of us, like a lot of people listening we are not aware of the discussion that go on with the BOT. I know not much more than anybody else,” Tarhule said. “I certainly didn’t think that at the beginning of the year that I’d be standing here as Interim President.”
Kinzy was appointed as ISU 20th president on May 14, 2021, and took office on July 1, 2021, with an annual salary of $375,000. According to her separation agreement, Kinzy will be paid for an additional 20 weeks of her salary as well as unused vacation time. She can also remain at the President’s residence for up to four months. The separation agreement also stated that outside of the joint press release, both parties would not make public comments about Kinzy’s departure.
Only one person spoke during public comment and that was Ph.D. student Steven Lazaroff. He spoke out against the lack of transparency from the Board of Trustees in the seemingly abrupt decision, pointing out that Kinzy’s departure was just two days before ISU’s Founding Celebration.
“Doesn’t the rest of us on campus, all 20 plus thousand of us deserve to know what 11-ish people know? Why the most visible leader and single most powerful human of this university is no longer working here from one day to the next?” he asked.
When Interim Board Chair Kathryn Bohn was asked how long the transition has been in the works she declined to comment. She also declined to comment when asked if the comments about the lack of transparency concerning Kinzy’s departure had any merit.
Bohn did say Tarhule is the right person to move ISU forward.
“Interim President Tarhule is a very humble man. But he is very well educated, very intelligent, has a real command on what’s going with the university right now and a true vision for the university,” said Bohn.
Following Friday’s board meeting Dr. Ani Yazedjian was announced as the acting provost, effective immediately. She has served as associate provost since 2019.
Tarhule’s tenure is effective until June 2024. The Board of Trustees will announce plans for a presidential search at a later date.