Illinois Public Media News
A former defense secretary says President Obama is right to carefully think over a decision on military commitment in Afghanistan - but he shouldn't think about it for too long.
Former Senator William Cohen of Maine served as secretary of defense for much of the Clinton Administration. Cohen told Focus 580's David Inge Thursday that in the Presidential campaign Obama encouraged greater concentration of troops in Afghanistan over Iraq, citing it as the home of al-Qaeda. Cohen says any decision to pull back there could further destabilize the region, and he needs to convey that to the American people and the nation's allies.
"Polls will change depending on what they (the voters) see and how he articulates the rationale for why we are there," said Cohen. "Can he persuade the American people that it is in our interest to prevent al-Qaeda from coming back in or the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan? Because if they do that, it may mean the destabilization of Pakistyan, which has many nuclear weapons."
Cohen believes the US military is not equipped enough to fight a long-term counter-insurgency in Afghanistan because it's not winning hearts and minds there.
Governor Pat Quinn says he's committed to keeping lawmakers in Springfield this month until a grant program for low-income college students is extended through next spring. Quinn and some of the students who rely on the Monetary Awards Program, or MAP Grants, urged the legislature restore that funding at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus Wednesday. But the Governor says he's hoping to avoid any special session days beyond the six on the legislature's fall schedule.
"We've got to go back and make sure this program is safe," says Quinn. "I had to do this with Human Services over the summer - we went 45 days of overtime but we got that improved. But we are in a tough economic time. So it calls for sacrifices by the General Assembly to do hard things." Proposals to fund the grants include a tax amnesty program and 1-dollar tax on cigarettes. But Quinn says he also wants to look at loopholes in the Illinois Tax Code, including a tax break the state provides to oil companies for offshore drilling. About 200 students and faculty were at the rally on the campus quad, where freshman Edward Washington said he stands to lose 25-hundred dollars before next semester.
"If we do not take action and reinstate the MAP grant, the General Assembly will send a message to prospective college students all across the state," says Washington. "That is - that college is for rich folk. Prospective students shouldn't even bother to apply because they just can't afford it. Does this sound right to you? I urge the members of the General Assembly not to make this a political issue." U of I Director of Financial Aid Dan Mann says if there's no new revenue for the program by November, his office will work with every student relying on the MAP Grant to see what options they might have for the spring semester - but Mann admits those choices will be limited. About 5700 students on the Urbana campus use the MAP Grants.
Gov. Pat Quinn is keeping attention on a college financial aid program for low-income students.
Lawmakers cut funding in half for the Illinois Monetary Award Program, also known as MAP grants. About 145,000 low-income students get financial assistance through the program.
The Chicago Democrat wants to see the money restored and he will rally at colleges around the state later this week, including the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University and Bradley University. The UI rally takes place Wednesday at noon at the Illini Union.
But Quinn's Democratic primary challenger, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, has said Quinn signed off on the cuts to the program. The cuts were part of lawmakers' efforts to deal with a gaping budget hole.
Quinn has had other MAP grant rallies at Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
With Stanley Ikenberry selected to step in as interim president, the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees is going ahead with a search for a permanent president to succeed Joseph White.
At their special meeting Saturday in Urbana , the Board approved the structure for a search committee. The panel has seats reserved for every sector of the university community --- faculty, staff, students, alumni and the university's foundation. And interim president designate Stanley Ikenberry says something new has been added that makes this U of I search committee different from ones in the past.
"And that is the recommendation in this case that three trustees join that search committee. I think personally that is a very wise move, given where we are at this point --- and I think will be an important factor in helping us attract first-rate candidates."
The committee will spend the next several months conducting a national search for a new president.
U of I Board Chairman Chris Kennedy says he wasn't worried that October might be a little late in the year to be able to find a strong candidate for the job.
"I don't think in fact that we're behind the eight ball at all. I think that we should have great confidence that we can find the best candidate. I think this university represents the best option for career change for anybody in the educational environment in America today. And I'm confident we'll end up with the best person in American to run the University of Illinois."
That confidence was echoed by the representative of the executive search firm that will help the search committee in its work. Michael Baer of Boston-based Isaacson Miller says the prime season for recruiting university presidents is just beginning. But he notes that other major universities are also conducting presidential searches --- including the University of Virginia, Texas A & M and North Carolina State.
U of I trustees hope to select a permanent president by next May, in order for that person to be on the job in time for the start of the next fall semester.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees Saturday voted to name Stanley Ikenberry the interim president. He'll succeed B. Joseph White, who announced last week he would step down in the wake of the university admissions scandal.
Ikenberry was the U of I's youngest president when he started his 16 year stint in the position in 1979. He later served as president of the American Council on Education, before returning to the U of I as Regent Professor. Now 74, Ikenberry says he's ready to lead the university through what he calls a brief but important transition period.
"I had a love affair with the University of Illinois that started 30 years ago and hasn't abated since that time", says Ikenberry. "I've said all along that if I could help and the university needed my help, I would be happy and actually honored."
Until his term begins January 1st, Ikenberry will be the U of I's interim president-designate --- working alongside President White and other administrators to make an orderly transition.
Ikenberry had been considered as a possible interim president as far back as September 23rd, the day White announced his resignation. But university board chairman Chris Kennedy says they actually considered 30 or 40 possible candidates, and Ikenberry "stood head and shoulders above the rest".
Kennedy had little to say about the future of Richard Herman, except to say that that Urbana Chancellor was a "great leader" and the board needed to discuss his future in executive session. Like White, Herman was criticized by the governor's Admissions Review Commission for his role in the admissions scandal.
Also Saturday, trustees formally approved White's resignation and approved his new position as professor of business administration on the Urbana campus. Trustees also approved a structure for a search committee to find a permanent U of I president to take office in time for the fall semester. They selected the executive search firm of Isaacson Miller to help in the process.
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees plans to appoint an interim president at a special meeting it's called for this Saturday on the Urbana campus. The meeting begins at 9 AM at the Illini Union.
The interim president would take over from B. Joseph White, who announced his resignation last week, in the wake of the U of I admissions scandal. The agenda doesn't give a name for the proposed interim president.
Former U of I president Stanley Ikenberry says he's been approached by some trustees about serving as interim president. He says he would accept the position if it were offered formally.
Trustees also plan to appoint an interim president designate. U of I spokesman Tom Hardy says that position would help ease the transition over to the interim president, before White's resignation takes effect, January 1st.
"It's likely that it would be the same person as the interim president", says Hardy.
The agenda for Saturday's board of trustees meeting also includes a motion to form a search committee to help find a permanent president. Trustees could also approve a revised employment agreement for President White, who plans to continue teaching and fundraising work at the Urbana campus.
Hardy calls the items on the quickly put-together agenda "probable". He says while trustees may choose not to act on some of them at that particular meeting, putting all of them on the agenda gives them some flexibility.
The Champaign School Board passed a deficit budget Tuesday night for the current school year. And while Unit Four officials say their cash reserves are enough to cover the loss, they warn of more serious deficits next year, unless some difficult cuts are made.
The 153 million dollar budget includes a nearly 3-point-9 million dollar deficit. Unit Four Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas says the district was the victim of unexpected cuts in state funding, changing rules for the use of federal stimulus funds, and tax revenues dampened by the recession.
"This is the most difficult budget I've had to put together in 22 years of public service", said Logas.
Still, Logas says the budget is not a total disaster. He says Unit 4 is avoiding large scale cuts, and should end the fiscal year with over 16 million dollars in its fund balance. Logas says that's still a healthy level for Unit 4. But he warns says the school district's finances will be even tighter next year, and planning must start soon for more cuts and the possible issuing of more working cash bonds.
The 153 million dollar budget includes a nearly 3-point-9 million dollar deficit. Unit Four Chief Financial Officer Gene Logas says the district was the victim of unexpected cuts in state funding, changing rules for the use of federal stimulus funds, and tax revenues dampened by the recession. The Champaign School Board is expected to start studying those options at its October 26th meeting.
The Unit 4 school board also approved a 3 percent raise for its administrative staff --- not including Superintendent Arthur Culver. Assistant Superintendent Beth Shepperd says the increase is lower than usual, because of the tight budget, and may have to go even lower next year.
Joseph White's announcement last week that he would resign as President of the University of Illinois is not the only time a president at the university was forced out of office. 56 years ago... the Board of Trustees pressured George Stoddard into stepping down as President after a 7-year tenure marked by controversy. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke with Professor Emeritus of History Winton Solberg on both the good and bad of Stoddard's tenure:
A new member of the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees says talks could begin as soon as Thursday morning on seeking out an interim replacement for President B. Joseph White.
In Chicago, Karen Hasara and the two other members of the Ad Hoc Committee on University Personnel Matters are scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time. The former Springfield Mayor says initial discussions towards appointing that interim could be part of that meeting. Most of it is expected to take place in closed session.
Hasara says she respects White for stepping down, saying it was probably in the best interest of the university. But she's unsure yet about what the fate of Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman should be.
"We really haven't gotten into details of what to do about that", says Hasara. "We've gotten letters, quite a few letters in support of him, and of course, the faculty vote not in support. But that will be the next big decision, I believe --- besides an interim
Hasara says she still needs time to read up on all the reports on improper admissions at the U of I, and who was responsible for them. But she says it will be important to get all Trustees together to discuss the future of university leadership.
Meanwhile, David Dorris --- one of the trustees who resigned in the wake of the admissions scandal --- also commends White for deciding to step down. But Dorris says White was not an effective president, and a change was in order.
Dorris says that after contacts with other former trustees, he believes that a majority of them shared his view. He says they arrived at that conclusion, before the admissions scandal broke. "We just thought it was time for a change in direction for the University of Illinois" says Dorris, "because his leadership as the president had been ineffective, and we thought that we could do better."
Dorris accuses White of mishandling the Global Campus project, and events leading up to the retirement of Chief Illiniwek ---although he doesn't include the Chief's retirement itself as a count against him. Dorris also says that the administration under White circumvented the board's rehiring policy, meant to keep employees from collecting a U of I pension and working for the university at the same time. And he accuses White of keeping 30-million dollars off the university's books without telling the board --- money that suddenly appeared in time to pay skyrocketing utility bills.
Dorris was alarmed by Governor Pat Quinn's comments on a Chicago radio station Wednesday morning suggesting that a replacement for White might be named that very day. That's turned out not to be the case, but Dorris says he's concerned that Quinn might be trying to engineer what should be the board's choice of an interim and eventually a permanent president for the university. Quinn has said it will be up to the Board of Trustees to decide White's successor.
David Dorris was one of seven U of I trustees who resigned in the wake of the admissions scandal --- only one, Ed MacMillan, was reappointed by Quinn. Dorris says the next U of I president needs to be a genuinely excellent choice, with stronger academic credentials in place of White's business background.
University of Illinois President Joseph White has confirmed his resignation, effective December 31st, in a letter today to U of I Trustees Chair Chris Kennedy.
That date will end a nearly 5-year tenure that was tarnished by the university's admissions scandal involving politically-backed applicants. University Spokesman Tom Hardy says he expects U of I trustees to hold a special meeting to name an interim president prior to their regularly scheduled November 12th meeting in Springfield. He says that person would assume leadership in January, and along with the trustees, oversee a national search for a permanent replacement, who could be in place by fall of 2010.
But Hardy says White still plans on being heavily involved with the U of I in other areas. "He's grown very close to the university community at large, and Urbana," says White. "He intends to make his home in Urbana and to continue to work with the university in a variety of capacities, chief among them being teaching and fundraising." The 62-year old White came to the U of I in January 2005 from the University of Michigan, where he served as a faculty member and administrator. By stepping down early from a contract that was extended last year, he will forgo a $475,000 retention bonus that would have kicked in next February. His current contract would have expired on June 30, 2011.
More material regarding President White's resignation can be found at the link below.
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