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Senior Fellows
R. Michael Tanner
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Areas of Interest:

higher education policy, distance learning, communications systems design, technology transfer


R. Michael Tanner joined the APLU as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer in January 2011, where he has led planning for a multi-institutional design project to accelerate development and adoption of "cognitive course wares," which achieve better student learning outcomes in gateway courses. He previously was Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for over eight years, following a 30-year long career at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. At UIC, he was in charge of 14 academic colleges and the library and had principal responsibility for the budget. He led academic planning and spearheaded major initiatives in interdisciplinary areas, notably a successful NIH Clinical and Translational Science center, and in diversity with an NSF ADVANCE award. At UCSC he was chair of the department of computer and information sciences, acting dean of natural sciences, before becoming academic vice chancellor. He was academic and executive vice chancellor for nine years, serving as the campus's chief operating officer. In 2000, Dr. Tanner was named interim director for the University of California Silicon Valley Center, where he was responsible for planning a satellite campus for 2,000 students at the NASA Research Park, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

His principal research interests have been in coding and information theory, and he is recognized as the founder of the field of "codes on graphs," a theoretical framework for designing coding systems that correct errors introduced in the transmission of digital messages. The representation of a code as mathematical graph with constraint nodes operating on subsets of variable nodes to which they are connected is commonly called a "Tanner graph" in the literature in recognition of his award-winning 1981 paper. He holds four patents and is a fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Dr. Tanner's other interests include computer simulation models, educational uses of information technology, intellectual property, and issues of sustainability and energy consumption. He co-chaired a University of Illinois Energy Task Force, which authored the current University policy on energy conservation. As a noted advocate for academic needs and faculty rights in scholarly communication, Dr. Tanner was the principal author of the 1999 report of the University-wide Task Force on Copyright at the University of California, a featured speaker at the 2004 CIC Summit on Scholarly Communication, and the 2005 UIC Nakata Lecturer. Dr. Tanner has been an organizer, moderator, and panelist for NASULGC/APLU national meeting sessions concerning scholarly communication in the digital age, and he is a member of the Advisory Board for the NIH's PubMed Central.


Updated 10/19/12

Senior Fellows Roster