Office of the Chancellor

Passing of William Lillyman

Nov. 30, 2020

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of William J. Lillyman, professor emeritus of German and former chair of the German department, dean of the School of Humanities, vice chancellor for academic affairs and executive chancellor, whose many contributions helped shape this university. 

Born in Australia, Professor Lillyman earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Sydney and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. A member of our Anteater community for close to 50 years, he was recruited to UCI as chair of the Department of German in 1972 after stints at Stanford and UC Santa Cruz. He served as dean of the School of Humanities in 1973-1981, vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1981-1982, and executive vice chancellor in 1982-1988, after which he returned to the faculty. He was brought back by Chancellor Ralph Cicerone for another term as executive vice chancellor and provost in 1998-2000.

Among his major accomplishments, he established the East Asian Studies program (now a department) and the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory (under future Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland); oversaw the growth of the student body by 60 percent; developed the concept of the UC Humanities Research Center and fought for its being located on our campus; and furthered our burgeoning reputation for inclusive excellence by recommending the appointment of our first Black vice chancellor, our first female dean, and our first Chicano dean.

An internationally recognized authority on Goethe, Professor Lillyman authored and edited several books and substantial essays and reviews concerning topics in German and Comparative Literature, architectural and literary theory, and architectural history from the late 18th to the 20th century. He earned renown for his very popular courses and lectures on fairy tales. He received numerous academic awards and honors, including the Extraordinarius Award from the UCI Alumni Association and, in 2000, the UCI Medal, our university’s highest honor.

Bill Lillyman, a visionary scholar/leader, left an indelible mark on UCI. His legacy lives on across the entire campus, and he will be greatly missed by all his longtime colleagues.