The Newberry Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Astrida Orle Tantillo as its tenth President and Librarian. Tantillo was named following an international search that employed the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. She joins the Newberry from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), where she served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) from 2012 to 2022 and is currently Professor of Germanic Studies and History. As Dean, Tantillo oversaw a budget of $100 million, 25 academic departments and programs, approximately 700 tenure and non-tenure track faculty members, and more than 200 staff members. She was recruited to the Newberry's Board of Trustees in 2022 due to her extensive experience in academic administration in Chicago.
During her tenure, LAS supported a variety of new centers and initiatives, including the Freshwater Lab, an interdisciplinary freshwater policy and research initiative; the Inter-University Program for Latino Research/UIC Mellon Fellows Program; and the Center for LatinX Literature of the Americas. She raised $50 million as part of IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC, while strategically investing in faculty hiring, recruitment and retention, and expanding the number of endowed chairs and professorships. She strengthened and expanded collaborations with cultural institutions including the Field Museum and Chicago Humanities.
“Astrida is a proven leader, fundraiser, and scholar with a wealth of experience managing a complex organization,” said Robert A. Holland, Chair of the Newberry’s Board of Trustees. “She is well-positioned to lead this next chapter in the Newberry’s history.”
The Newberry’s ambition to grow and diversify its audiences is mirrored in Tantillo’s accomplishments at UIC. Under her leadership, LAS realized its highest-ever undergraduate enrollment—a notable accomplishment given the shrinking college-age demographic. This growth, moreover, coincided with an increase in diversity: nearly half of LAS undergraduate students are from historically minoritized groups and nearly 40% are the first in their families to attend college. Tantillo also founded a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council to inform policy and advise LAS on its supported initiatives.
“I could not be more excited and honored to be entrusted to lead such a world-class library and cultural institution,” said Tantillo. “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.”
Tantillo is a humanities scholar, having authored three books on Goethe, including Goethe's Modernisms, The Will to Create: Goethe's Philosophy of Nature, and Goethe's Elective Affinities and the Critics. Tantillo earned her PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought and her BA from the University of Oregon Honors College.
Tantillo will join the Newberry on December 1, 2023, succeeding Gail Kern Paster, who has led the library on an interim basis since April 2023.