Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 18, 2009

Quinn Says He May Remove U of I Trustees Who Don’t Resign

If they don't do it themselves ... Governor Pat Quinn may force out the remaining members of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. There are already well over a hundred people willing to serve next.

A state panel that reviewed how clout sometimes influenced which students were admitted to the U of I called for all of the university's trustees to step down. While three trustees announced their reisignations, including Chairman Niranjan Shah, six have not. It's not only against the panel's suggestion ... but also the governor's. Pat Quinn says it would be best for the university if they willingly leave the board.

"We'll thank them for their service and then move on", said Quinn, during a signing ceremony for new ethics legislation. "So that's what they should do and that's what the people I think want them to do, and it's time for them to do it."

If they refuse, Quinn hinted he will take it upon himself to remove the remaining members.

"When problems arise, things have to be repaired, I'm there to repair them," said the governor.. And so I'm ready to go."

Quinn called for the trustees' voluntarily resignations early this month, but has not taken any action.

The Governor says approximately 140 people have filled out online applications to be on the U of I board.

The ethics legislation Governor Quinn signed on Monday includes one measure that sets ethical requirements any member of a state board or commission must meet. It also requires information about state board and commission membership and vacancies be published on a government Web site.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 17, 2009

UI Chancellor Mourns Loss of State Student Aid Funds

University of Illinois administrators are unhappy that the state budget doesn't offer much additional money for their budgets-but one is more upset over cuts to student aid.

Chancellor Richard Herman says Illinois has had one of the strongest aid programs for lower-income students through the Monetary Award Program, or MAP grant. He says funding cuts that may jeopardize some students' ability to attend college hits at one of his most treasured initiatives.

"For us to be only at the halfway point in terms of funding is deeply troublesome," Herman said. "I look at one of the things I've been able to bring about, and one of the greatest things for me is the Illinois Promise program, which gets to students with families at the poverty level. It's exactly targeted on a healthy portion of state assistance kids."

Right now the state budget provides for no money for MAP grants in the spring semester. Lawmakers may consider funding MAP for the full year during their fall veto session in two months.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 14, 2009

Richard Herman Says He Intends to Stay

The man in charge of the University of Illinois' Urbana campus says he intends to stay put as long as he's wanted. Chancellor Richard Herman's name was attached to some of the controversial admissions decisions based on inquiries from university trustees or influential politicians. Now the U of I is disowning the so-called Category I clout list and trustees have either resigned or have been asked to do so. Herman and president Joseph White also find themselves facing calls to step down. Herman told AM 580's Tom Rogers he still has the support of a broad constituency.

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Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

President White Calls for Swift Changes to UI Admissions

University of Illinois President Joseph White says a series of admissions reforms as recommended by a governor's panel need to be implemented in 8 weeks. White and about 100 leaders from the U of I's three campuses met in a closed-door meeting Wednesday discussing how to move beyond its admissions scandal. He says a firewall must be built around that area to ensure that no one above the level of Dean whose job doesn't include admissions will be involved in the process. The U of I also plans to adopt an admissions code of conduct, and set up a procedure for handling inquiries from lawmakers or anyone else inquiring about student applications.

White says the first action Wednesday was terminating the Category I list of politically-recommended students. He says the U of I needs to lead by example. "I think the University of Illinois, having been through this, has to correct and over-correct,' says White. "I think the practices that are pretty commonplace in other public universities won't be occuring here because we have to win the confidence of applicants and we have to win the confidence of the people of Illinois and I'm confident we will."

White would not comment on personnel matters, saying it remains to be seen whether the admissions scandal will result in anyone on campus losing their job, including himself. But he does say a U of I Board of Trustees with some new members will make the administration a high-priority item.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

Herman Says He Won’t Resign, Pledges to Reform System

University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman has apologized for his role in the university's admissions scandal, but says he has no plans to resign.

In a brief interview Tuesday with the Chicago Tribune, Herman said he was sorry for his role in the scandal and intends now to work on creating a new admissions process.

It was one of Herman's first public remarks since a state commission concluded last week that he acted unethically in admitting politically connected students with less-than-standard academic records.

The noted mathematician has been chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus since 2005, and was provost before that. Herman said he has received very few calls for his resignation and instead is relying on a letter of support signed by 48 of the university's most distinguished faculty members.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

U of I Administrators to Meet Wednesday on Admissions Process

University of Illinois administrators will be meeting Wednesday afternoon to look at ways to fix the school's admissions process.

U of I President Joseph White called for the meeting, after a state panel concluded that the university bowed to political pressure in admitting under-qualified students.

University spokesman Tom Hardy says they want to do what they can to fix the problem before the new admissions cycle begins next month.

"The plan is to hit the ground running," says Hardy, "and work immediately --- as the president indicated last week -- on recommendations that came out of the Admissions Review Commission, on how to reform aspects of our admissions procedures, to put up a firewall around admissions, so that we don't have the same kind of problems that were experienced before."

A university statement says the firewall will include a new Code of Conduct for Admissions ... clear and complete details on admissions policies and processes ... and a clear policy for appealing admissions decisions.

The closed-door meeting is set for 1:30 PM, Wednesday afternoon, at the Business Instructional Facility on the Urbana campus. Officials at the Chicago and Springfield campuses will take part via teleconference.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 10, 2009

Champaign Unit 4 Follows Up on Consent Decree Promises

The Champaign School Board passed resolutions, and introduced new policies last (Monday) night related to the recently concluded Consent Decree for racial equity.

The school board had promised to enact the resolutions and policies as part of its settlement with the Consent Decree plaintiffs. And Unit Four spokeswoman Beth Shepperd says board members are keeping their word.

"It means that our board is committed to equity and excellence for all students, and that we don't require court oversight to do what we believe is right," Sheppard said. "We want to show the community that we mean what we say."

The resolutions were passed unanimously. One reasserts Unit Four's commitment to the Consent Decree promise of adding new classrooms on Champaign's north side. The other resolution promises to continue the Academic Academy alternative program for at least two more years.

The policy proposals commit Unit Four to equity in its special education program, and in deciding school opening and closings. There will also be a new committee to monitor the school district's success in providing equity in education. The Champaign school board votes on the policy questions next month, after a 30-day public comment period.

Categories: Civil Rights, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 07, 2009

Admissions Report Points to UI Med School Process as Exemplary

The Admission Review Commission's final report points to the practices of another U of I school as a guide to how political clout can be taken out of the process.

It says the College of Medicine received letters of interest from trustees or political leaders over at least six prospective students in the last six years, but none were admitted and the inquiries didn't affect the integrity of the process. Dean Joe Flaherty says the faculty committee that chooses med students is not accessible to outside influence - not even his.

"I couldn't get one of my own kids admitted even if I wanted to, which I wouldn't of course do it that way," Flaherty said. "They see all the grades, the scores, all the non-cognitive evaluations, everything that comes in. They make their decisions collectively every month. There isn't a way of sneaking a candidate in from the outside."

The report quotes Flaherty as telling inquiring trustees who asked about students that admitting people with political favor of any kind is the third rail of medical school.

Categories: Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 07, 2009

UI President White Says He’ll Move to Implement Admissions Report

University of Illinois President Joseph White says university officials will be meeting in Urbana next Wednesday, to decide how best to implement the recommendations of a state panel that investigated the school's admissions process.

In a news conference Thursday , White said he embraced the report's recommendations, and wanted to use next week's conference set the path for making the University of Illinois "the national leader in quality admissions process".

"I think that's the opportunity that has been literally handed to us by this painful chapter," says White. "Things went wrong in our admissions process. It is an opportunity for us, first, to fix the problems and then to set the standard with news."

White responded to a report that found unqualified students were admitted to the U of I because of political connections. Those students were followed by use of a shadow tracking system called Category I. White says the use of Category I is ended immediately.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 06, 2009

Newest UI Trustee McMillan Steps Down

The newest University of Illinois trustee has become the third to step down in recent days.

Greenville businessman Ed McMillan has only been on the board since May, but he submitted his resignation letter to Governor Pat Quinn Thursday, saying he wanted to comply with the recommendations of the Governor's Admissions Review Commission. McMillan says it's in his judgment that the most important thing is to put in place people, policies, and a culture that will let the U of I start regaining the confidence of the people.

But McMillan says he would like to continue in the role of Trustee if the governor sees him fit. "If I can, in his judgment play a role in developing a strong plan for the future, I stand ready to continue in the role that he originally intended when he nominated me," says McMillan. "But if not, I will support his decision. I stand ready to help the future leaders of the university move forward in a positive and progressive direction." Like the recent resignations of Trustees Lawrence Eppley and Naranjan Shah, McMillan's is effective in 90 days, or when a successor is found. At this point, McMillan says Governor Quinn will take good counsel from the recommendations made by the commission.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

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