Chancellor Koch Biography

Susan J. Koch is Chancellor of the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, one of three campuses that collectively constitute Illinois’s leading and most comprehensive university. As UIS Chancellor, Dr. Koch is the chief executive officer of the Springfield campus, one of the top-ranked regional public campuses in the Midwest. Koch also serves as a Vice President of the University of Illinois and is a member of the UI President’s Cabinet – assisting the President and Board of Trustees in guiding the overall operations of the University of Illinois system whose academic community includes more than 80,000 students and almost 25,000 employees.

As Chancellor, Koch is responsible for providing leadership for the priorities, operations and programs of UIS, a campus known for exceptional public affairs programs that align with the campus’ state capital location, outstanding professional programs that serve regional needs and high-quality liberal arts education that prepares effective citizens and leaders. Koch and her leadership team work in partnership with the faculty, staff and students to ensure an intellectually rich and supportive educational environment while also collaborating with the community in mutually beneficial exchanges and activities.

Since her appointment in July, 2011, Koch has led the successful completion of the Brilliant Futures Campaign, which surpassed its $28 million goal and set new expectations for fund-raising success. FY2014 and FY2015 were successive record years for fundraising with a new Student Union for the campus and student scholarships being top fundraising priorities.

Koch has also led the campus in a reaffirmation of its strategic plan and in building consensus around three strategic priorities: growth, talent acquisition and retention, and facilities. Since 2011, the campus has increased enrollment and enhanced diversity at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Koch and her team have increased the visibility of the campus during the past three years with a new branding and marketing strategy, Leadership lived, and the campus has added nine new academic programs to better meet needs and interests of prospective students. With Dr. Koch’s leadership, the campus has developed a new collaboration with the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing and Memorial Health System to offer a nursing program at UIS. With a $2 million gift from Memorial, the program provides students with an opportunity to earn a BSN at the UIS campus and will help meet the high demand for BSN-prepared nurses in the region. Koch has enlarged campus investment in the Therkildsen Science Field Station at Emiquon, the university’s wetlands research facility. She has also overseen growth in the quality and success of the campus’s Division II Athletics program, including the addition in Fall, 2015 of Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Distance Track.

A highly-visible campus leader, Koch has established productive communication channels with students, faculty, staff and alumni, including the popular “Chocolate with the Chancellor” events for students, regular faculty consultations and gatherings, periodic “Letters from the Chancellor,” and campus forums on various topics of interest. In 2013, she led implementation of a new campus employment program for undergraduate students and is currently leading an initiative to build UIS’s first student union facility, which will break ground in Spring, 2016.

Dr. Koch is an active member of the Springfield community, serving on the Greater Springfield Chamber’s Q5 Strategic Leadership Council, as well as on several boards including Memorial Hospital and the United Way of Central Illinois. She also writes a popular monthly column, UIS Perspectives, for the local Springfield newspaper, the State Journal Register. In October, 2015, Koch received the State Journal Register Educator Legacy Award, a recognition to honor extraordinary leadership in Education in Sangamon County.

Koch was previously the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northern Michigan University, a large regional public university in Marquette, Michigan. She also served as Associate Provost and Graduate Dean at the University of Northern Iowa where she was Professor of Health Education and co-founder of the UNI Global Health Corps, a field-based organization that provides public health services for underserved populations in the U.S. and abroad. Her scholarship and teaching focus on health education, international health, conflict resolution, and health and human rights.

Koch earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Dakota State University in South Dakota and master’s and doctoral degrees in Community Health and Education from the University of Northern Iowa. She delivered the commencement address at South Dakota State in May of 2016 and was also presented an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the ceremony. Koch holds a tenured faculty position at UIS in the College of Education and Human Services.

Dr. Koch and her husband, Dennis, are the parents of four children and the grandparents of nine. Her husband is engaged in agribusiness and the Koch’s raise and show purebred Angus cattle.