University of Illinois System

Distinguished Service Medallion 2006


After receiving his master's degree (1963) and doctorate (1968) in mechanical engineering, Dr. Stukel joined the faculty of the College of Engineering. He held many positions within the University on both the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago (from 1985 to 1995) campuses. His career ultimately culminated as President of the University of Illinois from 1995 to 2005. The Medallion was presented to Dr. Stukel at the Urbana-Champaign commencement in 2006.


Board of Trustees Minutes
April 11, 2006


Dr. James J. Stukel is recommended for the Trustees' Distinguished Service Medallion.

A University of Illinois leader for many seasons and at many levels, the hallmark of James Stukel's career at the University of Illinois was his insistence on excellence in all arenas. As President of the University from 1995 to 2005 he led the University from the 20th Century into the 21st Century, determined to preserve and improve quality in programs and in all the University's endeavors. A few of his transformative accomplishments include:  modernization of the University's administrative systems; advocacy for establishing the Capitol Scholars Program at the Springfield campus, thus making it a four-year institution; formation of Illinois Connection, an army of Ambassadors that spreads the message of the University's excellence to citizens of the State as well as to elected officeholders. He worked tirelessly to strengthen the University in myriad ways.

President Stukel's tenure was marked by extraordinary growth in many areas of the University and tremendous expansion in facilities. One way in which he responded to the challenges was to encourage attention to a new mission for the University, that of economic development for the State and nation. In establishing programs such as IllinoisVENTURES to assist faculty and staff in commercializing research and in forming start-up firms, and in bolstering the development of research parks with which he had been associated from his days as vice chancellor for research at the Chicago campus, President Stukel helped define the University as the State's economic engine.

Following the theme of making the University of Illinois a leader in exploiting and developing technology, he nurtured the growth of online education and saw a particular role for the University in this new approach to bringing higher education to students that had hitherto lacked access to a college education.

As chancellor of the Chicago campus he is remembered for spearheading a massive development of the South Campus. He also inspired the Great Cities program and the study of urban phenomena.

From his days as a faculty member, then Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at the Urbana campus, to later leadership roles as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chancellor at the Chicago campus and throughout his presidency, Jim Stukel was a champion of shared governance and valued his regular meetings and conversations with faculty groups. He knew that faculty members are the essence of the University, and he constantly stressed the need for support to recruit and retain the best faculty for the University of Illinois.

With his wife, Joan, President Stukel served the University of Illinois tirelessly and selflessly.

For his career of dedication and exemplary service to our University and to honor one who led with distinction, the trustees award the Distinguished Service Medallion to James J. Stukel with gratitude and admiration.