In Memoriam: William Lillyman (1937–2020)

We are saddened at the passing of William Lillyman, former Dean of Humanities and Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California, Irvine. As Dean, Bill played an instrumental role in enabling both the vision and resources to found the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute on the UC Irvine campus.

Bill Lillyman also played a key role in bringing J. Hillis Miller, Wolfgang Iser, Jean-François Lyotard, and ultimately Jacques Derrida as faculty to Irvine, as well as establishing the Critical Theory Institute and Archive on the Irvine campus. When approached by Hillis Miller about the possibility of attracting Derrida from Yale to Irvine, he asked, “what will it take?” When told, his incomparable response was “You will have this tomorrow.” He delivered the next day, and Derrida would spend the next twenty years as a faculty member.

Watch William Lillyman discussing UCHRI’s origins with James McGaugh courtesy of UCI Libraries.