Agribusiness leader new chair of U of I Board of Trustees

Edward McMillan, University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Edward McMillan is new chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Edward L. McMillan, a University of Illinois alumnus and a national leader in agribusiness, was elected chair of the university’s Board of Trustees during its annual organizational meeting Thursday.

A trustee since 2009, McMillan will head a 12-member board that governs the U of I and its campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, with over 78,000 students, more than 23,000 faculty and staff, and a $5.6 billion annual budget.

McMillan said he is honored to serve the university that launched a more than 40-year career in agribusiness, including nearly a decade as president and chief executive officer of Purina Mills Inc., the nation’s largest manufacturer of animal nutrition products.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the university’s academic programs transform the lives of students and how its research discovery leads the way to progress and economic growth,” McMillan said. “Our board is committed to building on its rich legacy of excellence and extending its service to society for generations to come.”

He succeeds Christopher Kennedy, who will step down as a trustee when his term ends Jan. 19. Kennedy, a Chicago businessman, served as chair since he was first appointed to the board six years ago. During his term, the board helped restore confidence in the wake of a 2009 Urbana admissions controversy, guided the university through ongoing financial challenges while educating the best-prepared incoming classes in its nearly 150-year history, and promoted affordability through a policy that seeks to hold tuition increases to the rate of inflation.

McMillan, 68, of Greenville, is an independent business consultant specializing in mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and creating business alliances in the food and agribusiness industries. From 1988 to 1996, he was president and CEO of Purina Mills, where he began his career as a field sales representative in 1969 and held various positions in marketing, business development and diversified business management.

McMillan, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from the Urbana-Champaign campus, received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award and the College of Agriculture’s Award of Merit. He is chair of the board of managers for the university’s Research Park LLC, chair of the board of managers for the university’s Illinois VENTURES LLC, and a member and past chair of the Alumni Association board of directors.

McMillan serves on the board of directors for several agribusiness and food-related companies, including Balchem Corp (NASDAQ: BCPC), Durvet Inc., Agrivida Corp., Newco Enterprises Inc., and Certified Hereford Beef LLC. He served on the board of the American Feed Industry Association and as chair from 1993-94, and serves on the board of trustees of Greenville College.

The board elected its three-member executive committee, which meets as needed to complete urgent university business that cannot be postponed to a regular meeting. Members of the committee are McMillan and trustees Karen Hasara of Springfield and James Montgomery of Chicago.

Other U of I trustees are Ricardo Estrada, Chicago; Patrick Fitzgerald, Chicago; Patricia Brown Holmes, Chicago; and Timothy Koritz, Roscoe.

Kennedy and Pamela Strobel of Winnetka will leave the board when their terms expire next week, but their successors have not been named by new Gov. Bruce Rauner. Student trustees are Hannah Cave, Springfield campus; Lucas Frye, Urbana-Champaign; and Danielle Leibowitz, UIC.

Trustees re-elected Thomas R. Bearrows as university legal counsel, Susan M. Kies as secretary of the Board of Trustees and the university, and Walter K. Knorr as comptroller. All will serve one-year terms. Lester McKeever Jr. was re-elected to a two-year term as treasurer.

Complete board and committee membership and other information are available on the Board of Trustees’ website.