Chairs, Professorships, and Faculty Scholars

Professorship: Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering

Donald Biggar Willett (1897-1981) attended the U of I from 1916 to 1922, but left the university just a few hours short of earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. During the 1930s, Willett moved to Los Angeles and opened a tax accounting business. He died in 1981 at age 83. His wife, Elizabeth Marie Henning Willett, was an avid investor who accumulated a fortune. She knew that her husband admired the U of I College of Engineering for its thriftiness and honesty, so in her will she left a gift to the college for research in memory of her husband. Mrs. Willett died in 1993 at age 91. The purpose of the Willett Professorships is to increase the distinction of the College and its departments by recognizing and stimulating intellectual leadership and outstanding research.

Faculty: Ilesanmi Adesida

ECE Professor Ilesanmi Adesida

Ilesanmi Adesida (Ill-uh-SAHN-me uh-DISH-uh-duh) is the vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As the university’s chief academic officer, Adesida oversees the campus’ academic programs, policies, and priorities, which have been designed to ensure the quality of the educational experience for students and to sustain an environment that encourages and supports academic excellence.

Adesida works closely with the chancellor, the other vice chancellors, the deans of academic colleges and other units, academic staff, the Faculty Senate, and various committees in setting overall academic priorities for the campus.

In June 2005, Adesida became the 13th dean since the inception of the College of Engineering in 1870. He originally joined the Illinois faculty in 1988, and he is currently the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering. In addition to being an ECE professor, Adesida is a professor of materials science and engineering, and director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. He has previously served as the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory and the associate director for education of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Compound Semiconductor Microelectronics.

Adesida's research interests include nanofabrication processes and ultra-high-speed optoelectronics. He has extensive experience in development of novel processes for wide bandgap materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. He has also worked on ultra-high-speed photodetectors and photoreceivers in various materials systems. Adesida has chaired many international conferences, including serving as the Program and General Chair of the Electronic Materials Conference, 2000-2003. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Vacuum Society (AVS) and Optical Society of America. He is past-president of IEEE Electron Devices Society, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Adesida received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1979-84, he worked in various capacities at what is now known as the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility and the School of Electrical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. He was the head of the Electrical Engineering Department at Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Nigeria, from 1985-87.