Three alumni have been appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the University of Illinois System Board of Trustees.
The governor on Friday named finance executive Ramón Cepeda, banking executive Sarah Phalen and agricultural communicator Tami Craig Schilling to six-year terms on the board, pending approval of the Illinois Senate. This will be Cepeda’s second term as a trustee.
“I am pleased to welcome Sarah Phalen and Tami Craig Schilling to the Board of Trustees and am delighted that Ramón Cepeda will serve a second term,” said Don Edwards, the chairman of the board. “I look forward to working with them as we seek to maintain the rich tradition of excellence that has so long been a hallmark of a University of Illinois education.
“I also thank Gov. Pritzker for the thought and consideration required in making these three appointments, weighing the best interests of the U of I System and choosing three strong additions,” Edwards added.
U of I System President Tim Killeen said the newly appointed trustees strengthen a board that is already dedicated to maintaining access to the life-changing education found at the U of I System universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.
“I am eager to work with Trustees Cepeda, Phalen and Craig Schilling as we strive to continue maintaining affordability and access to Illinoisans, offering them the kind of educational excellence that our universities were founded to provide,” Killeen said. “I offer my thanks to all three trustees for their willingness to serve, and to the governor for their appointments.”
Cepeda, a Darien resident and political independent, earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and economics from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). He was first appointed to the board in 2015 by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. Cepeda is senior vice president and managing director at The Northern Trust Company, a financial services company headquartered in Chicago and one of the country’s largest banking institutions. He is also a trustee of the National Museum of Mexican Art, located in Chicago.
Phalen, a Republican from Springfield, earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and an MBA from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). She is president and CEO of INB, a 13-branch bank headquartered in Springfield. She is also treasurer of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance and treasurer of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
Craig Schilling, a political independent from Okawville, earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from UIUC. She is an agronomy knowledge transfer lead with Bayer Crop Science and has worked in agricultural communications since joining Monsanto in 1990.
The board has 13 members, 11 of whom vote, and oversees the U of I System. Nine trustees are appointed by the governor and no more than five may belong to a single political party.
The system has more than 90,000 students, 26,000 full-time equivalent faculty and staff, nearly 800,000 alumni and pumps $17.5 billion into the Illinois economy annually. The three system universities award more than 23,000 degrees a year.
Trustees Cepeda, Phalen and Craig Schilling will join Edwards, a Chicago Democrat and graduate of UIUC who was re-elected as chairman in January; Kareem Dale, a Chicago Democrat who earned his bachelor’s degree in advertising from UIUC, as well as a law degree and MBA; Ricardo Estrada, who is a Chicago Democrat and earned a master’s degree in social service policy and administration and an MBA from UIC; Patricia Brown Holmes, a Chicago Democrat who earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from UIUC; Naomi D. Jakobsson, a Democrat from Urbana who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in teaching English as a second language from UIUC; and Stuart C. King, a Champaign Republican who has a bachelor’s degree and MBA from UIUC and a medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. Student trustees are Jocelyn Bravo of UIC, who is from Chicago and the voting member among student trustees, along with non-voting members Ali Mirza of Lombard, who is a student at UIUC, and Austin Verthein of Montgomery, who is a student at UIS. Pritzker is an ex-officio member of the board.