As the new director for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), I’d like to provide some insight into some dramatic changes that happened over the past two years as we switched administrative leads. As a bi-state program jointly managed by the University of Illinois and Purdue University, at any given time, one of these institutions has served as the lead. U of I was the initial lead from 1983 to 1994. Purdue served as the lead in 1994–2001, and again, U of I led the program from 2001 to 2018. Since February 2018, Purdue University is once again the institutional lead for IISG.

To maintain a long-term, equitable partnership we believe these institutional transitions are healthy. However, they do require substantial administrative adjustments and our recent transition has included turnover in multiple administrative positions. Brian Miller, our long-time director, retired in early 2018. In addition, both our assistant director (Lisa Merrifield) and outreach program leader (Laura Kammin) recently left the program. At the same time, several administrative positions (i.e., dean, associate dean, and department head positions) in our reporting line at the two universities have transitioned over the previous year.
As of 2018, I became the new director. Joining the program or taking on a new role were associate director (Yu-Feng Lin), assistant director (Stuart Carlton), outreach program leader (Pat Charlebois), research coordinator (Carolyn Foley), fiscal officer (Deb Hula), communication coordinator (Hope Charters) and administrative and layout assistant (Ethan Chitty).

We have spent a great deal of time this past year on hiring, team building, partner development, and establishing new work flows and fiscal tracking, but the core of our program’s activities remain consistent and strong. Luckily, several new positions were filled by people with Sea Grant experience who were familiar with the program. For example, Carolyn Foley moved from the assistant research coordinator to research coordinator position, and our research program has continued to support applied research, relevant to the management of Lake Michigan and the environmental and economic health of our region. Importantly, almost all of our more than 15 outreach and education specialists remained in their positions during the transition period. The programs they have developed continue to positively affect communities in southern Lake Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region.

As we continue the process of transitioning our program, we are excited by the opportunity to build on this past work to continue to engage with students, researchers, and other partners to bring about sustainable and vibrant environments and communities around southern Lake Michigan.

Tomas Höök
Director, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant