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
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
Senior Fellows Roster
Agnew, Harold M.
Atkinson, Richard C.
Bell, C. Gordon
Bennett, Alan B.
Bishop, J. Michael
Cárdenas. Alfonso F.
Clegg, Michael T.
Cominsky, Lynn R.
Coye, Molly Joel
Drake, Michael V.
Elster, Richard S.
Fowler, T. Kenneth
Gurol, Mirat D.
Huang, Alice S.
Hubbard, G. Scott
King, C. Judson
Lee, William C.Y.
Long, Jane C. S.
Macari, Emir Jose
Martin, David W.
McLean, William J.
McTague, John P.
Miller, William F.
Moses, Edward I.
Niebla, J. Fernando
Nikias, C.L. Max
Nova, Tina S.
Patel, C. Kumar
Qayoumi, Mohammad H.
Richmond, Rollin C.
Tanner, R. Michael
Tarter, C. Bruce
Zornetzer, Steven F.