Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D.


Rutgers University-Camden

Dr. Antonio D. Tillis was named the Chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden in 2020. Previously, Dr. Tillis served as the Interim President of the University of Houston-Downtown, overseeing the second-largest university in Houston. In addition to giving leadership to the institution’s historic downtown campus, he also oversaw UHD Northwest and off-site centers at Lone Star College campuses in CyFair and Kingwood.

Dr. Tillis received his Ph.D. in Latin American literature with an Afro-Hispanic emphasis from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He holds an M.A. in Spanish literature from Howard University and a B.S. in Spanish from Vanderbilt University.

As Interim President, Dr. Tillis has instituted several faculty, staff, and student initiatives to support and sustain the dynamic surge in growth experienced by the university. Since joining UHD, Tillis has appointed a Presidential Taskforce on Diversity, initiated a Faculty Success Program to support research development, and established and implemented faculty cluster hiring and strategic hiring programs that will connect diverse faculty to the growing academic programs at UHD. Experiences as a first-generation student of color informs his leadership and was the foundation for forging a relationship with the City of Houston and the Houston Arts Alliance to create degree targeted internship experiences for UHD students and supplying the “Call Me Mister” program, designed to attract African American and other men of color to primary and secondary teaching, with student success funds to support the inaugural cohort.

Before his appointment at UHD, Dr. Tillis served as Dean for the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS) and MD Anderson Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. As CLASS Dean, his leadership extended across 13 academic departments, 10 academic areas and programs, 13 academic centers, 6 clinical service units, and more than 688 faculty members. Preceding his Deanship at UH, he served as Dean of the School of Languages, Culture & World Affairs at the College of Charleston; Chair of African & African American Studies at Dartmouth College, and the inaugural Chair of Latin American & Latino Studies at Purdue University.

Dr. Tillis is an internationally acclaimed scholar and author specializing in Latin American, Afro-Latin American, and African Diaspora literatures. He is the author of the books and edited volumes including, The Afro-Hispanic Reader and Anthology, Manuel Zapata Olivella and the “Darkening” of Latin American Literature, Caribbean-African Upon Awakening: Poetry by Blas Jiménez, (Re)Considering Blackness in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian (Con)Texts: A Cultural Studies Reader, Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature, and Manuel Zapata Olivella e o escurecimento da literatura Latino-americana. Dr. Tillis’ work has been featured in top journals, including Callaloo, Hispanic Journal, Mosaic, CLA Journal, and Transit Circle.
He is the recipient of many prestigious honors and has served in various leadership roles. He is a 2021 city of Houston Mayor’s History Award winner and was named one of the Top 50 African American Professionals and Entrepreneurs in Houston by d-mars Business Journal. Additionally,  Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared March 7, 2017, “Dr. Antonio D. Tillis Day.” Dr. Tillis was named the 2012 Lorna Hill Professor of the Year at Dartmouth College, served as president of the College Language Association from 2008 to 2010, and received the 2007 University Faculty Scholar award at Purdue University. Dr. Tillis was a Fulbright Scholar to Brazil at the State University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Tillis is a sought-after lecturer who has served as a visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, the State University of Rio de Janeiro, and Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has developed relationships with numerous universities in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Trinidad, Jamaica, Sweden, Spain, France, England, Costa Rica, Peru, Ghana, China, India and Pakistan.