After 36 years of living and working in Texas, William L. Perry is returning home to the Midwest, where he will begin his new role as president of Eastern Illinois University.
The 61-year-old Missouri native will assume the post on July 1.
"I'm excited about Eastern Illinois University, and I'm excited about the opportunity," Perry said. "(My wife) Linda and I felt very well-received during the interviewing process, and look forward to working with campus constituencies in our efforts to further advance the university."
Leo Welch, chair of EIU's Board of Trustees, welcomed Perry as Eastern's 10th sitting president.
"When we began this search, we discussed the need for an individual who would fit in with the university community, as well as the region overall," Welch said. "And I think we have found the individual who fits that bill.
"Dr. Perry made outstanding presentations to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, to the Board of Trustees and to the university community as a whole," Welch said. "All the comments I heard and read were quite favorable.
"I welcome him to Eastern as our next president, and promise he has the full support of the board of trustees."
The three months Perry has before officially taking office promise to be hectic ones.
"I'll be taking some vacation time (from Texas A&M) to make a trip or two to Charleston," he said. In addition to the task of house-hunting, his thoughts already are focused on the impending presidential transition.
"The next few months will be very exciting," he said. "I'll start collaborative planning rather quickly."
And then, as president, he will spend the first six months of his tenure "refining and sharpening priorities," working with the university's faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community and regional partners.
"In addition to getting to know campus constituents, I want to meet with the people of the community, including legislators and city and county officials. I want to engage in some general dialogue with others and hear their thoughts about what characteristics will establish Eastern as a first-choice institution," he said.
"We will determine what it means for Eastern Illinois University to be a first-choice institution and what the indicators are. Then we will build on these, as a working team and partnership, to let the public know, to let our alumni know - to let everyone know - what our aims are."
Perry also looks forward to introducing himself to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and meeting with his fellow presidents of Illinois colleges and universities.
"I understand the presidents tend to work together here in Illinois, and I'd like to maintain that tradition," he said.
Perry further added that retiring EIU President Lou Hencken will be a valuable resource. "I hope to work with him and continue to build on those relationships he has already established."
Eastern's search for a new president began when Hencken announced in August 2006 that he planned to retire this year. He has been employed with the university for nearly 42 years, the last six as president.
Perry has been with Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, since 1971, and currently serves as vice provost (2003 to present). He is a tenured professor of mathematics and has previously served as executive associate provost (1998-2002), dean of faculties and associate provost (1990-1998), associate dean for academic affairs, College of Sciences (1988-1990), and associate head of the Department of Mathematics (1977-1981).
He received his bachelor of arts in both mathematics and history from Park College (Missouri), and his master of arts degree and doctorate in mathematics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.