Former UIC dean named president, librarian of historic Newberry Library

Astrida Orle Tantillo
Astrida Orle Tantillo, dean emerita.

University of Illinois Chicago Dean Emerita Astrida Orle Tantillo will serve as the 10th president and librarian of the Newberry Library. Tantillo was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2010-2022.

“This new role offers our longtime colleague the opportunity to pursue her lifelong commitment to humanities research and public engagement within one of our city’s most distinguished cultural institutions,” LAS Dean Lisa A. Freeman said. “We celebrate her remarkable accomplishments and are confident that her expertise will contribute significantly to the Newberry Library’s goals and mission.”

Under Tantillo’s guidance, LAS realized its highest undergraduate enrollment. Simultaneously, this achievement was accompanied by a noteworthy increase in diversity, with nearly half of LAS undergraduate students hailing from historically underrepresented backgrounds, and a substantial 40% as first-generation college students. Tantillo also played a pivotal role in the inception of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which has been instrumental in shaping policies and providing invaluable counsel for initiatives supported by LAS.

“As we celebrate the remarkable journey of our former LAS dean, her appointment as president and librarian at the Newberry Library stands as a testament to her unwavering dedication to advancing the humanities,” Dean Freeman said. “We, as a community, take immense pride in her accomplishments, both during her tenure as dean of LAS and as she embarks on this new and exciting chapter.”

Tantillo’s term as LAS dean was highlighted by robust support for various groundbreaking centers and initiatives. Notable among them are the Freshwater Lab, an interdisciplinary initiative focused on freshwater policy and research, the Inter-University Program for Latino Research/UIC Mellon Fellows Program and the Center for Latinx Literature of the Americas. She also secured $50 million as part of IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC. This fund was thoughtfully invested in faculty recruitment, retention and endowed chairs, strengthening UIC’s academic community. Additionally, she fostered partnerships with esteemed cultural institutions such as the Field Museum and Chicago Humanities, expanding the university’s footprint in the cultural landscape.

“I could not be more excited and honored to be entrusted to lead such a world-class library and cultural institution,” said Tantillo in a recent article for “I look forward to working with its extraordinary staff and dedicated trustees and supporters to advance its mission of fostering a deeper understanding of our world across diverse audiences through the Newberry’s collections, research and teaching activities, exhibitions and programming.”

Founded in 1887, the Newberry is one of Chicago’s most historic cultural institutions, boasting a rich history as an independent research library specializing in the humanities. Tantillo will join the Newberry in her new role Dec. 1.

— Written by Jonathan Cecero

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