Illinois Public Media News

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

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

UI Senate Leaders Call For White, Herman to be Replaced

Leaders of the University of Illinois' faculty want the school's president and the chancellor of its flagship campus replaced in the wake of an admissions scandal.

But the faculty's Senate Executive committee said Thursday that it would be best if President Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman don't get fired or quit immediately.

Faculty leaders instead called for an "orderly transition'' to new leadership. They didn't recommend a timeline.

White has said they won't step down. And in a statement this morning, Herman said he'll remain in his job as long as possible.

The two answer to the university's board of trustees. Some members say they plan to start reviewing the two school leaders' performance.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

WILL Connect: The Economy, Tracking New Directions for Displaced Workers

In central Illinois, many employers large and small have downsized or closed altogether, forcing thousands of laid-off workers to consider new options. In our latest report as part of our outreach project "WILL Connect: The Economy", AM 580's Jeff Bossert looks at the retraining of workers. Ingenuity and government-funded training are giving many of them a jump on a new career, or a better shot at an old one:

Download mp3 file

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

Quinn Appoints Two New U of I Trustees, Lets Two Others Stay

Governor Pat Quinn has started making fresh appointments to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

That's after most members resigned in the wake of an admissions scandal.

Quinn says he wants to replace the seven trustees who've resigned in the next week and a-half.

On Wednesday, he announced two new appointments: those of Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy, and Lawrence Oliver, an attorney for the Boeing Company.

Quinn says the board's first item of business will be dealing with U of I President B. Joseph White and Urbana Campus Chancellor Richard Herman, who were key players in the scandal.

"I think they have a lot of explainin' to do", says Quinn. "But I don't want to prejudge things until the full board that I appoint has an opportunity to review this report, listen to the various individuals involved, and come to a reasoned decision."

The report issued by a state panel recommended all nine trustees step down.

Two trustees, Frances Carroll and James Montgomery, have refused... But Quinn says he's allowing them to stay on to avoid a protracted legal fight.

"You can be as legalistic as you want," explained the governor. "I do not think that having a legal battle with two trustees who refuse to resign is the central focus of our work."

Quinn says that would be a "sideshow" that could detract from the U of I's fundraising and faculty recruiting.

Trustee Montgomery congratulated Quinn for not firing him. But Quinn was criticized by others for his handling of the situation.

Illinois Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said the situation was still unresolved because some trustees were staying on.

Quinn's Democratic primary challenger, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, accused the governor of failing to lead.

The governor says, in the next week or so, he plans to finish appointing replacements for trustees who've already offered to step down.

--- Additional reporting from The Associated Press

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Quinn to Name Christopher Kennedy to UI Trustee Post

Gov. Pat Quinn will appoint a son of the late Robert F. Kennedy to the University of Illinois board of trustees.

Quinn's office confirmed Chicago businessman Christopher Kennedy's appointment in advance of a Wednesday afternoon news conference where Quinn is expected to announce more changes to the board. Christopher Kennedy is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died Wednesday.

It's been nearly three weeks since a state panel Quinn appointed recommended that all the trustees should go after an investigation into how clout influenced admission decisions at the school.

Seven trustees have offered to resign, but trustees James Montgomery and Frances Carroll are refusing to step down. They say they've done nothing wrong.

Watch for updates Wednesday afternoon.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Quinn Says He’ll Take Action Wednesday Against Holdout U of I Trustees

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn say's he'll take action Wednesday regarding two University of Illinois trustees refusing to step down. The school is embroiled in a controversy over admissions practices.

Quinn had said he wanted all U of I trustees to resign by the start of the school year. On Monday, that deadline came and went, but two trustees - Drs. James Montgomery and Frances Carroll still haven't submitted their letters of resignation.

Quinn has hinted that he'd fire the trustees if they don't step down. But both say they'll fight any attempt to remove them from the board. They say they didn't do anything wrong, regarding the admissions scandal that's engulfed the school. And they say that means the governor has no grounds to fire them. Both holdout trustees are prominent members of the African-American community, and they've gotten some high-profile backing.

Despite Quinn's threats, he won't say what his plan of action will be.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 25, 2009

Illinois Will Send a Flu Letter Home with Children

Illinois' top education and health officials have issued a "Dear Parent'' letter recommending seasonal flu vaccinations for all school children in the state. The letter also urges parents to get their kids vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus when that vaccine becomes available this fall.

It's aimed at parents of children in the state's nearly 4,000 public K-through-12 schools, plus private schools. The letter is posted online in English and Spanish, signed by state Education Superintendent Christopher Koch and Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon Arnold. They're urging schools to include it in back-to-school materials for parents.

The letter urges parents to talk to their doctors or local health department about where to obtain flu shots or nasal spray vaccines, although many schools eventually will offer them.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 25, 2009

Quinn Delays Decision on UI Trustees but Says It Will Happen

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn says the governor may have delayed action against two University of Illinois trustees who refuse to resign but isn't backing down.

Marlena Jentz says the governor will act against James Montgomery and Frances Carroll later this week. Quinn had said he'd act yesterday Monday to resolve the conflict with Carroll and Montgomery.

The delay has led to criticism from one likely political opponent. Quinn's chief Democratic primary opponent, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, says the governor should have resolved the situation before classes started this week.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and Democratic gubernatorial candidate William "Doc'' Walls, meanwhile, want the governor to let Montgomery and Carroll stay.

Quinn asked all nine university trustees to step down over the school's admissions scandal. Seven have resigned.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 19, 2009

Quinn Accepts Resignations of Four U of I Trustees

Gov. Pat Quinn says he will accept the resignations of four University of Illinois trustees who said Tuesday they are willing to step aside. Meanwhile, though, Quinn is still waiting to hear from the panel's last two members, neither of whom appears willing to go.

Trustees James D. Montgomery and Frances G. Carroll are the only ones who haven't offered their resignations since Quinn called for trustees to step down in the wake of the school's admissions scandal.

When asked Wednesday about the trustees, Quinn said he was encouraged by the news of the latest resignations.

Quinn says he has the authority under the Illinois Constitution to remove trustees for incompetence, malfeasance or neglecting their duties and plans to act this week. But he didn't commit to doing anything about the two trustees left.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 19, 2009

Quinn Says He’ll Act on U of I Trustees “Within the Week

Governor Pat Quinn continues to hint that the days could be numbered for University of Illinois trustees who don't heed his request to resign. He says a decision will be made by the time school starts next week.

"I look forward to making sure our University of Illinois' good name is always protected, and I think that's paramount," said Quinn Tuesday at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. "The university had educated many, many people. They are comprised of excellent faculty and hard working students. We're proud of each and every one. We want to make sure the university's good name is not besmirched. And so it's important that the governor stand up for that principle and I will do so within the week.":

Three trustees have already resigned, including Chairman Niranjan Shah. Quinn has been urging the remaining six to quit for more than a week. So far, they haven't stepped down.

A state panel recommended all the trustees should go amid allegations that some pushed for less qualified students to be admitted to the school.

Quinn has been cagey about what he'll do if the trustees don't quit. But he said he has no doubt he has the power to remove them.

When Quinn was asked if there was a chance he wouldn't remove the remaining trustees, he answered - in his words -- not to "hold your breath.''

---Additional reporting by Illinois Public Radio

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

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