Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 09, 2012

U of I Foundation President Micek to Step Down

The head of the University of Illinois' fundraising arm says he's stepping down at the end of 2012.

University of Illinois Foundation President Sidney Micek will serve as president through December, and then remain with the Foundation part time, working on special fundraising initiatives. The foundation has raised nearly 3-billion dollars under Micek, much of it through the U of I's Brilliant Futures campaign.

In a press release, U of I President Michael Hogan says Micek's leadership will yield dividends for generations to come. The foundation notes that private funding is partially responsible for many newer facilities on the Urbana campus, including the Alice Campbell Alumni Center and Business Instructional facility.

The foundation expects to name Micek's successor before he leaves the job.

Categories: Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 09, 2012

Send U of I Enrollment Mgt Plan Back to Faculty Senate: Faculty Pro-Union Group

As the University of Illinois investigates anonymous emails about a controversial new enrollment management plan, a group promoting collective bargaining for university faculty says that plan should be put on hold.

The Campus Faculty Association at the U of I Urbana campus wants a moratorium on President Michael Hogan's new, more centralized, enrollment management plan, in light of the emails.

The writer of the emails claimed to be an anonymous faculty senator, and brought up disagreements among Conference members as they considered a report critical of some parts of the plan. But a computer science professor traced the email to a computer registered to Hogan's chief of staff, Lisa Troyer, who resigned last week, citing personal reasons.

Campus Faculty Association spokesperson Susan Davis says it's clear to her group that the administration has been trying to put undue pressure on the Faculty Senates Conference as it considers "a very significant change in the way students are admitted to the U of I". Davis says the enrollment management plant should be sent back to the faculty senates at all three U of I campuses for a thorough review.

Leadership on the Faculty Senates Conference have been reluctant to blame the emails on Troyer, before the university's investigation is complete. They note the possibility her computer may have been hacked. Troyer has not returned a call seeking comment.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 09, 2012

Indiana House Committee Will Vote Tuesday on Labor Measure

An Indiana House committee has scheduled its initial vote on divisive labor legislation that has brought hundreds of union protesters and sparked a three-day boycott by Democrats.

The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to meet Tuesday morning to vote on right-to-work legislation. House Democrats made the initial vetting possible when they joined House Republicans Monday.

The bill would make Indiana the first state in more than a decade to ban contracts that require workers to pay union fees for representation.

House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said Monday his caucus was returning "just for today'' and that Democrats may boycott again.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says the bill could get a final vote in his chamber as early as Friday if Democrats stick around.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 08, 2012

New Minor League Basketball Team Launches Regular Season

A new minor-league basketball team based in Bloomington, Illinois begins its regular season Sunday afternoon. The Central Illinois Drive will meet the St. Louis Phoenix, at Soldan International Studies High School Arena in St. Louis. It's the first regular season game for both teams in the five-year-old Premier Basketball League.

The two teams play again on Friday evening, January 13th, for the Drive's first regular season home game, at the U-S Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

The Central Illinois Drive go into the season, following a 96 to 90 home court win over the Chicago Muscle on New Year' Eve.

The Drive are coached by former Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors player A-J Guyton. The team lineup includes former ISU player Tony Lewis and former Bradley University players Daniel Ruffin and Matt Salley.

The St. Louis Phoenix played last season as the St. Louis Pioneers in the American Basketball Association.

The Central Illinois Drive is the third minor league athletic team to come to Bloomington in recent years. The Bloomington Blaze of the Central Hockey League and the Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League are also based at Bloomington's U-S Cellular Coliseum.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 08, 2012

Commission Says School District Mergers Could Cost Illinois Billions

A commission studying Illinois education says forcing small school districts to merge could cost state government billions of dollars.

The huge price could kill any chance that the Classrooms First Commission will recommend mandatory consolidation. Several commission members told The Associated Press that there is little support for that approach.

The commission was created after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed reducing the roughly 870 Illinois school districts down to just 300. He said that would save $100 million in administrative salaries.

The commission looked at a hypothetical plan to merge all individual high school and elementary districts. It concluded the mergers would cost state government at least $3.7 billion. That's because the state is required to help new districts pay staff and teachers.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 07, 2012

University of Illinois President’s Chief of Staff Resigns

The chief of staff for University of Illinois President Michael Hogan has stepped down amid an internal investigation.

Lisa Troyer resigned from her post this week following allegations that she posed as a member of a faculty advisory group when sending anonymous e-mails to its members about a report that was critical of some of Hogan's proposals.

Nicholas Burbules, who serves as vice-chair of the Senates Conference, said one of the messages urged members of the Conference not to investigate the source of a leaked report that they were working on about enrollment. The e-mail also criticized conference members about their own internal divisions when writing that report.

"This person was basically saying in view of these differences, we should just basically give up and not try to pretend that we can actually issue a report that actually does represent a common view," Burbules said. "The e-mail was pretty clearly intended to influence the deliberations of the conference."

In the end, the Senates Conference did pass an enrollment report by a vote of 13-to-2.

Burbules said the message sent to the Senates Conference was signed by a "Senator." He said he suspects the e-mail sender was Troyer.

"Part of it I think that really is upsetting to people is that it looks as if the poster was posing as a member of the conference, and using anonymity to block their actual identify," he said. "That's, I think, one of the ethical issues that's going to be looked into."

Burbules said the only direct evidence linking Troyer to that anonymous e-mail and other ones sent to the Senates Conference was the embedded text within the body of the messages. U of I computer science professor Roy Campbell told the Chicago Tribune that he was able to connect the embedded text to Troyer's computer.

"Only somebody with a considerable amount of knowledge and information about deliberations within the conference could have written this e-mail," Burbules added. "Whoever wrote this e-mail knew a lot about what had been going on and the argument we had been having within the conference."

Illinois Public Media requested copies of the e-mails. Senates Conference Chair Donald Chambers, a biochemistry professor on the Chicago campus, said he wanted to be cautious about releasing those documents, saying he didn't know what the specific university policy is for that material. University spokesman Tom Hardy said he would check on whether they could be released on Monday.

As of Saturday, Hardy said President Hogan was not available for comment.

Hardy said an investigation began in mid-December looking at the circumstances of the e-mail messages, which he expects will be completed soon. That investigation has also focused on whether hacking was involved in sending the messages.

Hardy could not disclose Troyer's reasons for resigning, and she did not return a request for comment.

"It's a personal decision on her part," Hardy said. "I have not talked to her."

Troyer came to the U of I in July 2010. She had previously served as Hogan's chief of staff at the University of Connecticut, and she was also a former interim associate provost at the University of Iowa. At the U of I, she was making $200,850 during this academic year.

In an announcement to university administrators on Friday, Hogan praised Troyer as "knowledgeable, hard working, loyal, collegial, and dedicated to helping each one of the universities." Hogan explained that Troyer will resume research and teaching duties, concentrating her time in the psychology department.

However, U of I Interim Provost Richard Wheeler told the Chicago Tribune that the U of I needs to finish its investigation before allowing Troyer to stay with the university. Chambers agreed with that assessment.

"The University Senates Conference is the faculty part of shared governance," Chambers said. "So if, in fact, a person is trying to subvert the faculty process, I could easily that a number of my colleagues would be disturbed about just the process of allowing somebody back to the faculty as a default in a potentially ethical situation."

Chambers said concerns in the Conference's enrollment management report are like the issues "that our founding fathers faced."

"We're for things that will facilitate enrollment management and getting the best possible students, and most diverse student body that we can get," Chambers said.

The U of I has tried to move forward following a damaging admissions scandal in 2009 involving politically-backed student applicants. Burbules said he thinks the U of I's Board of Trustees will review the circumstances surrounding the anonymous e-mails, and he said he hopes any knowledge President Hogan had about the messages will also be investigated.

But Hardy said he does not know if there is a sufficient "reason for this matter to go before the Trustees."

"This isn't the first, nor will it be the last time that information technology folks are asked to examine the source of e-mail, and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the security of our information technology system," he said.

Categories: Biography, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 07, 2012

Labor Measure Boycott in Indiana Holding Up Smoking Ban Talk

Anti-smoking advocates close to success in the Indiana General Assembly must wait out House Democrats' boycott of a divisive labor bill.

The three-day standoff between Republicans and Democrats has put the statewide smoking ban and many other popular issues on hold. Anti-smoking advocates remain optimistic. Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown, of Gary, says "the impasse'' likely will end next week.

Some House committees have begun taking "straw votes'' on measures because they technically have not yet received legislative proposals. They would later take a formal vote after the Democrats end their boycott.

The boycott has even put some question on whether the House can properly gavel in for Gov. Mitch Daniels State of the State address Tuesday. Although Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski says he is planning on delivering the annual speech.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 06, 2012

Cellini Juror Storms Out of Courtroom

There was drama in a federal court in Chicago Friday over whether to throw out the recent conviction of political heavyweight William Cellini.

That jury that convicted Cellini included Candy Chiles, a Chicago woman who didn't tell to the court about past convictions for drug possession and DUI. Cellini's attorney, Dan Webb, said Chiles lied in an effort to get on the jury, and he wants the conviction reversed.

In Friday's hearing, Chiles gave varying explanations for her mis-statements, including "I don't know" and "I was confused. Nervous. Confused and nervous."

Asked specifically why she didn't disclose the drug conviction, from 1999, during jury selection, Chiles said, "It's in my past. I never mention it at all."

Chiles was instantly unsettled by questions from Cellini's attorney, repeatedly accusing him of treating her like a criminal.

"What's this all about?" she loudly asked Webb. "So you can get [Cellini] off? Leave me alone. I'm tired of you."

"I sat here for 5 weeks [during the trial] and watched the way you work," Chiles said to Webb a bit later. "You keep asking me the same questions to try to trip me up."

Webb was scolded several times by Judge James Zagel for asking adversarial questions of Chiles, "sticking a needle in her." The judge said the information he was getting from the combative testimony was not helpful as he decides whether to throw out Cellini's guilty verdicts.

Zagel told attorneys his ruling will not only weigh on whether Chiles was qualified to be a juror, but whether she had any bias or prejudice after she was on the jury.

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 06, 2012

Cardinal Apologizes for Linking Gay Parade to KKK

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is apologizing for remarks comparing an annual gay rights parade to a Ku Klux Klan rally.

In a Chicago Tribune interview, George said he is "truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused."

George said he has gay and lesbian family members, and his remarks has "evidently wounded a good number of people. I am sorry for the hurt."

The cardinal's initial remarks were prompted by plans by gay pride leaders to route a parade at a time that would have interfered with services at a church on Chicago's North Side. He said it resembled anti-Catholic marches once staged by the Klan. The time of the parade was changed.

Gay rights groups condemned his comments. The Civil Rights Agenda said George should apologize and resign.

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