A few days ago the University of Illinois lost one of its greatest leaders and legends, former Chancellor, Dean and Professor John Cribbet. Generations of Illinois College of Law alumni treasured Professor Cribbet, and Former U of I President Stan Ikenberry said, “John will be remembered as the most beloved Illini of all time.” There are several accounts online of Professor Cribbet’s life and legacy, including are articles prepared by the College of Law, the News Gazette, and the Chicago Tribune. and the College of Law will be having a ceremony to celebrate his contributions on Saturday.
Here with his permission, I would like to share the words of my friend and mentor, Dr. Stan Levy, former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, who worked closely with Chancellor Cribbet when he led our University:
Today’s e-mail brought the news of the passing of Chancellor Emeritus and Professor Emeritus John Cribbet. He had been ill for quite some time.
John was a prince of a person, a one of a kind Illinois original. Distinguished scholar, teacher, college dean and administrator. community-minded for both the University and Champaign Urbana communities. Before it was reorganized the Senate Committee
on Student Discipline was totally college deans, and the junior dean was ‘honored’ in serving as its chair. John received this assignment during some of the most difficult days at UIUC. When Bill Gerberding elected to leave the Chancellor’s post after only 18 months on the job, John was asked, almost dragooned, into serving first as Acting Chancellor and then as Chancellor at a time when the University was under great stress, athletic issues and significant budget stresses especially. John distinguished himself in many ways. In the dark days of his tenure, and there were many, he was the ‘cheerleader’ who always saw the silver lining. He was always upbeat. His love for the University; his respect for faculty; his gracious way of dealing with his staff; his respect for the young leaders of the community, students, were always present. His stories – and his speeches – were always insightful and memorable. His words were always his own; he wrote his own materials. And then there were his stories: Ponca City, General Patton, etc., a small array woven into amazing contexts. He was a craftsman of the first rank in his use of language.
He was a terrific leader, a superb boss, a confidant, a good friend, and amazing supporter of what we sought to do in Student Affairs. He was a gentleman at every turn and time. His five years as Chancellor helped to change the face of the Campus. It was a distinct personal pleasure, and constant learning experience to work for John.
May he rest in peace.
A service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Rowe Auditorium at the College of Law.