UIS provost retiring after 27 years at the university

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Photographs courtesy of Tiffany Chin

Cole Moriarty, Features Reporter

Provost Lynn Pardie will be retiring from her position at the end of May after beginning her career at Sangamon State University in 1989.

Reflecting on what brought her to this university in 1989, Pardie said, “what attracted me to this university was its excellence in teaching.”

The values the outgoing provost ascribed to UIS focus on vibrancy, freshness, and curiosity, calling UIS a “university on the move,” and having “an atmosphere on campus of forward-thinking,” among other descriptions both laudatory and evocative of action.

In her words, “working in university is a gift,” something that is “new and exciting all the time.”

“New” seems to be the operative word. Pardie enjoys working with staff and faculty on campus because she says they’re “advancing” their skills.

She likes working with the students, because she “get[s] to come to campus and you get to work with some of the brightest students around…they’re always interested in what’s new.”

“In my current role, I love seeing what’s being done across the nation, and the world, looking for new things,” said Pardie. “At the same time, I’m getting new ideas from within.”

“Is that me?” she said, referencing the focus on the future she describes. “Well, it’s certainly something that I loved about teaching, and love to be a part of as an administrator.”

Whether the focus on using a framework of words describing living, breathing, and growing things is something the outgoing provost found on campus, as she asserts, or whether she brought it with her when she arrived, she said it’s “one of the things that kept me engaged in higher education.”

Pardie has “worked in the private sector,” as she is both a licensed clinical psychologist and a scholar in her field.

That is to say, the outgoing provost has likely not been bound to this university by anything other than her affinity for it. Yet she has stayed for nearly three decades at a place where she has had a “very satisfying career.”

Pardie has spent 27 years at UIS and stocked the proverbial trophy shelf, holding positions of ever-increasing importance following an academic and scholarly career that produced research papers and a book she co-authored, in addition to a UIS Faculty Excellence Award.

While she didn’t come to this university with the aspiration or ambition of becoming provost (rather, she says she’d “hope[d] to be a full professor,”) she was eventually asked to chair her department.

From there she served as the interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, then associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research.

In January of 2011, she began serving as interim occupant of her current office, and was appointed to the position outright of provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs in July of the following year.

Indeed, the career arc of Pardie suggests a parallel between her and the university. During her time, the outgoing provost has been a party to what may very well be the defining years of this university.

A few months from the close of her time at the university, words like “expansion” and “evolution” pop up every few lines with a note of belief – or perhaps more accurately, sureness.

It is sureness born out of seeing those words translate into change, such as the transformation of Sangamon State University into the University of Illinois at Springfield.

It’s the “adding of a doctoral program” and “expansion into lower divisions” and “Capital Scholars expansion.” It’s watching what Pardie calls the “spirit of innovation,” which has kept the university at the forefront of technology, from “single-band radio and broadcast television” in the 1970s and ‘80s to the online technologies used today.

It is fair to say that the outgoing provost has a regard for change, to be “open to new opportunities,” and as a corollary willing to “take risks.”

Pardie stands now at the end of her career. Does she have any retirement plans? “No,” she said, “and I’ll tell you why. There are times in one’s life that you have to acknowledge are a big transition; I’m going to give myself a chance to wind down.”

That’s as far as she’s willing to speak of with certainty. “Then, the challenge and the risk is to be open to new things,” Pardie added.

When those new things, like her wish to travel to Kyoto, Japan to see the temple gardens, appear before her, the outgoing provost will probably use the process that has served her so well for so long.

“The first step,” said Pardie, “is to think.”