Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 10, 2009

U of I Board Meets Thursday to Choose New Officers and Approve Admission Reform

The September 10th meeting of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in Urbana will not be business as usual. The board is meeting for the first time since Governor Pat Quinn appointed six new members --- and reappointed a 7th --- in the wake of the admissions scandal. Quinn himself will make a rare appearance at the trustees' meeting. And the board is scheduled to vote on a resolution putting the stamp of approval on admissions reforms called for by the governor's Admissions Review Commission.

U of I spokesman Tom Hardy says the first directive of the resolution is the elimination of Category I --- the infamous list of applicants with political connections --- and a ban on anything resembling it.

"We've done away with Category I", says Hardy. "But this says that anything that might appear or seem to take its place --- whether you call it something else --- anything like that tracking list would be out of bounds."

The resolution also calls for setting up written criteria for admissions that are readily accessible to all, and creating a new code of conduct for admissions that will help create a firewall that insulates admissions officers from unwarranted interference.

Hardy says these are the directives President B. Joseph White gave the administration at a special meeting last month, in line with recommendations from the Governor's Admissions Review Commission. White's goal is to have the reforms in place by the start of the new admissions cycle on September 23rd.

WILL will broadcast the U of I Board of Trustees meeting live, beginning at 9, on AM 580, FM 90.9 HD 2 and HD 3, and online at will.illinois.edu. .

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 09, 2009

Rantoul Township HS Students Face “Soft Lockdown

Rantoul Township High School will be on a 'soft lockdown' for a second day Wednesday after two recent fights and the arrests of several students.

Superintendent Janet Koroscik says there were about five arrests following two fights outside the school on Friday. And Tuesday, Rantoul Police removed three students from the building when knives were discovered on them. The knives were found as officers went from room to room, bringing students out individually to search them. Officers and school administrators also searched backpacks and lockers. That was prompted after a rumor surfaced that a student would bring a gun to school Tuesday.

Koroscik says the fights could be connected to gang activity... noting the incidents have involved many of the same individuals. But she says they're a poor reflection of the majority of the student body:

"I really want to ensure everyone that the small group of individuals whose behavior is certainly inappropriate in no way reflects on the larger portion of our population who has amazing behavior," Koroscik said. "This is a great place to be and we want to make sure we keep it that way."

Rantoul Township High School has 787 students.

Koroscik says during a soft lockdown, no students are allowed to leave the classroom unless they're accompanied by a teacher or administrator. And extra staff and administrators are monitoring the hallways in between classes.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 08, 2009

Faculty Group Welcomes Trustees, Meeting; Still Wants Input

One day after University of Illinois trustees meet to reorganize the board this week, they'll meet with faculty representatives. So says a member of the Urbana campus' Academic Senate, who says he's impressed with Governor Quinn's picks for trustees posts from last week. Still, Nick Burbules says the Governor ought to meet with faculty when he makes future trustee appointments.

"Everything I've heard about the new members is outstanding," Burbules said. "But as always, we're as much concerned with process as the outcome, and I think we're going to continue to work to trying to urge closer consultation with faculty governance about how these decisions get made in the future."

Burbules says the board of trustees is scheduled to meet with faculty members on Friday to discuss ways to reform the U of I's admissions process. Irregularities in that system led most of the previous trustees to resign after a recommendation from the governor's admissions review commission.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 04, 2009

More Details on Gov. Quinn’s Selections for UI Trustees

Governor Pat Quinn says the five new trustees he appointed to the University of Illinois board are committed to making sure the school's reputation is "second to none.'' Quinn named the five Friday to fill spots that were vacated when other trustees resigned amid an admissions scandal at the school.

One group that's happy with Governor Quinn's trustee selections is the leadership of the U of I Alumni Association. President and CEO Loren Taylor says four of the five appointees came from a list of candidates the association had provided the governor. The fifth had also been endorsed by some alumni, and Taylor says that candidate is a fine choice too. Quinn didn't pick U of I alumni for his first two appointments, Chris Kennedy and Lawrence Oliver. But Taylor says that didn't faze him. "Our experience in working with the governor was that he would want to consider strongly the recommendations that we had made, so we just felt we needed to be patient," says Taylor. "I think that's paid off." He says the alumni group received interest from about 400 people when the call went out for trustee candidates.

One new trustee hopes the newly-reconstituted board can get the admissions scandal behind it as soon as possible. But former Springfield mayor Karen Hasara says she needs more background into the controversy before she makes any decisions on the fate of President Joseph White and Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman. She enters the trustee's job with 17 years of political office behind her, as a state legislator and as Springfield's former mayor. She says that's prepared her for the scrutiny she'll face in the coming weeks. "I don't particularly like negative things being said but I have gotten to be pretty thick skinned," says Hasara. "So I think I'll be able to get through it okay."

One trustee who voluntarily resigned and was passed over for re-appointment by the governor says Quinn misled him and other now-former trustees. David Dorris turned in his resignation last month along with three other members. Only one, Quinn appointee Ed McMillan, was re-appointed. Two trustees who refused to step down are still on the board. Dorris says he doesn't regret his decision to quit because staying in place would have heaped even more public scorn on him and the University. But he accuses Quinn of making a purely political decision not to fire James Montgomery and Frances Carroll.

"What is very disgusting is the fact that he had made such strong statements and we were all told, in no uncertain terms, that if we did not resign he would forcibly remove us," says Dorris. "I don't know how that man can ever explain away his decision to back down against the two." Dorris worries that a board of trustees with six new members won't have the institutional knowledge to run effectively, and they'll vote for a new chairman without knowing each other. Neither Quinn nor his office has returned many calls from WILL seeking comment.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 04, 2009

New UI Trustees Named

Gov. Pat Quinn has filled five positions on the University of Illinois board of trustees.

The trustees named Friday are all university graduates. The new members are former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara, Rockford Dr. Timothy Koritz, retired Exelon executive Pamela Strobel and Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Quinn also reappointed Edward McMillan, a businessman from Greenville who resigned from the board this summer.

The governor's moves Friday follow last week's appointments of Christopher Kennedy and Lawrence Oliver II.

Seven trustees stepped down following reports that political connections played a role in some admissions to the university. James Montgomery and Frances Carroll refused calls to resign.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 04, 2009

Quinn Ready to Name U. of Ill. Trustees

The University of Illinois should soon have a full board of trustees after most of the members resigned after an admissions scandal at the school.

Gov. Pat Quinn said he was ready to fill the five remaining spots on Friday.

The governor said he would announce his picks so there would be a full board in place for next week's meeting.

But he wouldn't say on Thursday whether any of the trustees who resigned at his request would be reappointed.

A state panel investigated how clout influenced university admissions and found that some unqualified students with political connections had gotten in. The panel said all nine trustees should resign as a result. Seven did, but two --- James Montgomery and Frances Carroll --- refused and Quinn decided against removing them to avoid a legal fight.

Last week Quinn appointed two other new commissioners: Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy and Boeing executive Lawrence Oliver II.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 01, 2009

More Details on UIUC Senate Postponment of Vote on White, Herman

It will be two more weeks before the Academic Senate at the University of Illinois's Urbana campus votes on a resolution calling for changes in leadership.

The body made up of 200 faculty and 50 students met in closed session for about an hour Monday to consider an advisory resolution aimed at Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman and President Joseph White - calling for them to step down in the wake of the U of I admissions scandal. Then the panel voted 91 to 66 to postpone the vote to September 14th.

Before Senators considered the resolution... both administrators addressed the standing-room only crowd. Chancellor Herman again apologized for his role in improper admissions, saying he realized that people were in 'genuine pain' as a result of clout's involvement.

"I still believe", said Herman, "that for the hundreds of inquiries from well-connected people over many years, only a small percentage ended up being mishandled. But even one case is too many."

Herman said he considered resigning... but believes his accomplishments should outweigh the mistakes.

Meanwhile, White told the faculty-student body that said he was unaware of the Category I list of politically connected applicants until news reports of about the list first surfaced:

"I assure you that had I known about these practices, I would have challenged them", White said.

Both White and Herman say they want to stay in their jobs to help guide reforms of the admissions process.

Senate Executive Committee Chair Joyce Tolliver says now the Senators can take their time to discuss the resolution with fellow faculty and students, most of whom have just returned to campus. But Tolliver points out a new U of I Board of Trustees could take action on the administrators ---- before the Senate meets again. Governor Pat Quinn still has to fill five vacancies on the Board prior to a September 10th trustees meeting in Urbana.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 01, 2009

UIUC Senate Wants Bigger Role for Faculty in Choosing U of I Trustees

The faculty-student Senate at the University of Illinois Urbana campus is calling on Governor Pat Quinn to create a task force to advise him on selecting new members of the U of I Board of Trustees. A resolution passed by the Academic Senate Monday also recommends that chairs of the Senates at each campus be among the members of the panel. It also calls for the eventual appointment of faculty to the U of I Board itself.

Business professor and Academic Senator Mark Roszkowski says having faculty representation at the top level of university governance would ensure real shared governance between the university's administration and its faculty. "So I think this vaults the (Academic) Senate into its proper position as the protectors of the academic mission of the university", he added.

Roszkowski says if faculty serve as U of I trustees, they might have to recuse themselves from voting on certain matters to avoid conflicts of interest, as student trustees now do. But he says that even in those cases, a faculty voice during board discussions would be good for the university.

Roszkowski says a delegation from the Academic Senate is to meet with Governor Quinn on the proposal, before he appoints any additional trustees. Quinn has said he plans to appoint more trustees on Friday.

Passage of the resolution on faculty participation in choosing and serving as trustees came at the same meeting where senators agreed to postpone a vote on a resolution recommending that U of I President B. Joseph White and Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman step down.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 31, 2009

U of I Urbana Academic Senate Delays Vote on White and Herman

The faculty-student Senate at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus voted 91 to 66 Monday to postpone for two weeks a vote on an advisory resolution calling for President Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman to step down --- due to the admissions scandal.

The delay means the Senate won't take up the non-binding resolution until September 14th --- four days after the U of I Board of Trustees' scheduled September 10th meeting, when trustees might discuss the issue themselves.

The postponement was sought by Joyce Tolliver, chair of the Executive Committee which approved the resolution last week. Tolliver's move to postpone the vote was rejected by a boisterous voice vote at the start of the meeting, but was accepted after a lengthy discussion in closed session.

"By the time we come back in two weeks, we're not rushed", explained Tolliver. "We don't have to hammer out some of the details and ambiguities on the floor."

Both White and Herman spoke to the Senate Monday afternoon to argue for staying on, so they can reform the admissions process.

White told the Urbana campus Academic Senate that he had no knowledge at the time that there was a "Category I" list of under qualified applicants backed by trustees, politicians and others --- he says he would have challenged it if he had known.

Herman said he had come to realize the pain he had caused to citizens, students and parents by his role in the admissions scandal, and had considered resigning. But he told the Faculty-Student that he wanted the opportunity to help build a firewall to protect the university admissions process from future political pressure.

NOTE: This story has been revised and updated.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

Suspected H1N1 Flu Cases Turning Up Among U of I Students

Health officials in Champaign County saw only a handful of H1N1 or swine flu cases over the summer. But now that students are back at the University of Illinois Urbana campus, they're bringing a steady flow of suspected flu cases with them.

Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of the McKinley Health Center on campus, says suspected H1N1 cases have been coming in at the rate of 5 or 6 a day. He says most of the students are sent home to their parents, where they can be relatively isolated until they are no longer contagious. But for those who can't go home --- or who already live in the area --- Palinkas says they've been finding ways to keep infected students away from other people as much as possible.

"Sometimes, it means having a roommate change a room", says Palinkas. "Sometimes, it means a housing entity --- not necessarily University Housing --- find temporary accomodations for five to seven days. So far, each of those arrangements has been, really, pretty successful."

There is no definitive diagnosis of H1N1 flu virus in most of these cases, because state officials are limiting how many cases they test. McKinley Health Center doctors are basing their diagnosis on a rapid flu test plus their own clinical judgment.

Palinkas says he expects suspected H1N1 flu cases to continue among U of I students --- and even increase, as the virus spreads throughout the campus. He says common-sense prevention methods can limit the flu's increase. Those methods include frequent handwashing, covering coughs with a sleeve, and not sharing materials from one mouth to another.

Categories: Education, Health

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