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Aondover Tarhule’s Journey to Presidency at Illinois State University

Written by on March 25, 2024

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University’s Board of Trustees appointed Aondover Tarhule, Ph.D., as the newest president of the university and approved a four-year contract expiring in 2028.

The shift to the permanent role follows Tarhule’s one-year term as interim president and a comprehensive nationwide search. Upon learning about his role as the permanent president, Tarhule explained what he felt in the moments following the announcement. 

“I was absolutely thrilled, you know, as I said in my message beyond words, it’s a great position, it’s a great privilege, it’s a great institution and so the opportunities to lead the University at this time and the things I know we can do in the solid foundation and know we have I couldn’t be happier,” Tarhule said. 

As Tarhule transitions from interim president to the twenty-first president of ISU, he shares what he is most excited about while stepping into this role and what he plans to continue working towards during his time here.

“Obviously, we are very excited for student success,” he said. “We have some really good retention and graduation numbers, but I think we can do better. Our retention rate is 81.3 percent. That’s lovely, that’s much higher than the national average, but on the flip side, it means we are losing about 800 students per year. I’d like to see those numbers go up and see the academic programs that we have started to come to fruition.”

Before stepping into the interim presidency in February 2023, Tarhule was Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and he also taught in the Departments of Geography, Geology and the Environment. He shares how his experience in his past roles has contributed to his success in his current role.

“I would say that my previous roles have given me considerate insights and confidence about the academic side. I have spent this last year working on those other components that I didn’t do much of. Components of the University’s student affairs, financial planning, and so on,” he said. “This is the same with almost anybody who becomes president. I happen to come from academic affairs, and I spent the last year as interim working on components of this, and it has been very satisfying.”

As Tarhule begins this next chapter as ISU’s president, he wants to ensure that all students and staff know he’s excited and eager to be placed into this role.

“I’m very excited. I’m confident and optimistic we have a very solid foundation, and we have a very robust brand, and that we’ve taken all of the initial stages to prepare ourselves for the future, so also, at this point, we just need to execute wherever I look I see nothing but opportunity and see nothing but things we can leverage, and I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I say this again, there couldn’t be a better time to be a redbird.”