ISU tabs Tarhule as new president following interim run

Chronicle Media

Dr. Aondover Tarhule (Illinois State University photo)

Illinois State University announced that Dr. Aondover Tarhule has been officially named as the university’s 21st president after serving in the role on an interim basis since February 2023.

Tarhule’s appointment follows a national search overseen by the Illinois State Board of Trustees. The search for a permanent president was led by a 29-member Presidential Search Committee consisting of students, faculty, staff members, alumni board and foundation board members, and trustees. In addition, several Illinois State diversity and inclusion groups were represented, including the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, Black Colleagues Association, Latinx Alumni Network, Association of Black Academic Employees and the LGBTQA Alumni Network.

The Presidential Search Committee was charged with preparing a presidential profile and presenting five qualified candidates for consideration to the Board of Trustees. The search committee’s work was then presented to the Board of Trustees, and on-campus interviews were conducted with four finalists after one candidate withdrew for personal reasons.

“The national search for the university’s next president was highly recommended through our shared governance partners, and the process was represented with a strong cross-section of stakeholders,” said Dr. Kathy Bohn, ISU Board of Trustees chairperson.

After reviewing the search committee’s work and evaluating the finalists, the Board of Trustees reached a consensus to pursue Tarhule as ISU’s next permanent president. During a special meeting, held March 18, the board installed Tarhule to the post and approved a four-year contract that will expire on March 17, 2028.

“The Board of Trustees determined that not only is Dr. Tarhule known to the campus community, but his strategic and visionary perspective helped him stand out in a very competitive field of candidates,” Bohn said. “He is an approachable leader who brings a high level of integrity, knowledge and thought to conversations that will continue our institution’s 167-year legacy well into the future. I’m proud to say he’s earned our trust and the title of president.”

Tarhule initially joined ISU in 2020 as vice president for academic affairs and provost. He also served as a professor in the Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment.

“I must express my deepest appreciation to the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with this vital leadership role. Your confidence in me is both humbling and inspiring,” stated Tarhule. “From the moment I stepped on campus to interview for the position of provost and vice president of academic affairs, the community’s investment and dedication to the success of Illinois State was clear and heartwarming. To our community stakeholders, your faith and passion for all things Illinois State makes the Bloomington-Normal, surrounding area and Illinois State communities unique.”

Tarhule also said, “Under my leadership, Illinois State will remain visible, engaged, and a collaborative partner committed to improving the quality of life and enhancing the sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

Prior to joining ISU, Tarhule served as vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University (New York) and was executive associate dean and department chair in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Tarhule is a first-generation college student, earning a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in environmental resources from the University of Plateau State, in Nigeria. He later earned a master’s degree and doctoral degree in geography from McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Tarhule then received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Canadian Science Advisory Council to conduct research at Queens University, in Kingston, Ontario.