New Provost Joins NEIU

Melissa Brand


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Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D. was named the new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs effective Jan. 2, 2013 at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Helldobler filled the vacant position after a team of faculty, staff and students narrowed down the search from more than 50 applicants. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Helldobler comes to NEIU with an extensive background in education. Most recently, he spent three years as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Prior to Shepherd University, Helldobler spent more than 20 years at California University of Pennsylvania where he served as the Chair of Theater and Dance, Dean of Liberal Arts and eventually, Associate Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Helldobler attended the University of Toledo where he received his undergraduate degree in business. He later attended Boling Green State University where he received his M.A. in Speech Theatre and his Ph.D. in Theatre.

Helldobler has plans for improving the state of the institution.  One of the biggest tasks he is involved with is the new El Centro campus. “I regularly visit the current El Centro campus so I can get an understanding of their space and programming needs to serve them better,” he said.

While living in Toledo, Chicago was a place to come for vacations. That changed for him in 2005. “I was an American Council Education Fellow in Chicago,” said Helldobler. “40 of us were selected nationally, and we spent time shadowing presidents at universities. I spent my time at Roosevelt University where I fell in love with Chicago.” Helldobler said he was very lucky to be selected to join NEIU. “This is a very exciting place to be,” said Helldobler. “I love the diversity of the campus and Chicago is a great city.”

The provost position reports directly to NEIU President Sharon K. Hahs who said, “I think he is a wonderful addition to the university community. I think he has exactly the right talents, skills and experiences to lead the academic side really well. I am so thrilled he has come.”