Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Hogan Resigns as U of I President

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan has resigned amid criticism from faculty and students.

"It has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve as President of the University of Illinois," Hogan said in a statement. "While the University has faced some significant organizational and budgetary challenges over the past several years, we have initiated the reforms necessary to modernize and streamline our business functions and redirect the savings to academic purposes. The underpinnings of this great institution are sound."

Hogan took over at the University of Illinois in 2010, in the wake of an admissions scandal there.

The Board of Trustees Executive Committee is expected to name Robert Easter to succeed Hogan at a meeting on Friday in Chicago. Easter, who served as interim Chancellor & Provost, will take over as president July 1, for a two-year term.

"Now, as Mike has decided to move on, the Board of Trustees has asked me to assume the mantle of leadership of this great institution as its President. I do so with pride, but also humility-with eagerness, but also enormous respect," Easter said. "I am committed to our students and all of our campuses. And, it is for this reason that I accept the responsibilities as President and pledge to move forward energetically and collaboratively with an agenda that reaffirms the University of Illinois' special place among the very best of institutions of higher learning in the United States."

Trustee Karen Hasara said that Easter is a good choice for U of I president, because he is well known and respected throughout the university community.

State Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), who is a graduate and a student trustee of the University of Illinois, said he supports the appointment of Easter as the university president-designate. Rose said as a U of I faculty member, Easter is someone everybody trusts.

"I just hope they give him a long enough contract that he can move us forward," Rose said. "I mean I don't want to see some other search, you know, for somebody else. I mean the U of I has this history of always looking for some guy from Michigan or some guy from Stanford. Forget that. The right guy has been here the whole time."

In the email, Chairman Chris Kennedy suggested the U of I's next leader should be "a proven administrator with a track record of collaboration and success within our University."

Hogan had been criticized by faculty and students for weeks for allegedly not listening to the concerns. He has been under pressure for months as faculty complained about his management style and plans for the campus. His chief of staff resigned over anonymous emails intended to win faculty support of an unpopular enrollment management plan. Hogan was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident.

Kennedy said earlier this month that he expected Hogan to improve his relationship with the university community within a couple of months. In an interview on March 8 after that meeting, Hogan said he would redouble efforts to better communicate with University faculty and students.

"I've spent a lot of time with faculty. I've spent a lot of time with faculty governance groups, but I have to take it up a notch," Hogan said. "I really have to persuade people that not only I am in the room with them, I'm actually listening to them. I'm not only seeking their advice, I'm profiting from what they have to say."

Joyce Tolliver is an Associate Professor of Spanish, and Vice-Chair of the Academic Senate Executive Committee. Tolliver said Hogan's exit was difficult, but it had to happen. She also wished him well.

University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum was on a committee that hired Hogan, but had signed two recent letters calling for his resignation. Both letters were signed by more than 100 faculty members. Berenbaum said she was surprised to learn about Hogan's resignation.

"It's just an unfortunate situation all around. It wasn't supposed to go this way. That's all," Berenbaum said. "I have every confidence that our campus will recover from this. I mean this has been difficult, but I am absolutely sure that we can move on successfully."

Professor Laura Greene said Hogan's resignation is "good for the university." She was also one of more than a hundred faculty members who signed a letter asking for Hogan's dismissal. Greene said she opposed plans to consolidate the university's admissions system.

"For this particular university system, I think it's important to maintain the strength of each campus," Greene said.

U of I student Keenan Kassar is a Senator-elect on the Urbana campus. He helped organize a student demonstration last week to speak out against Hogan's leadership. Kassar said the next president of the University of Illinois should be someone who can repair the U of I's reputation, and prevent additional scandals from happening.

"With Hogan we ran the risk of our reputation dropping," Kassar said. "He was seeking of repairing it, but he was the one damaging it. I don't think it's damaged beyond repair. I just hope we don't get anyone who does damage it."

Trustee Karen Hasara said it was clear that public dissatisfaction with Hogan was high in the university community, for his handling of his enrollment management proposal. She said trustees took the latest letter signed by chaired faculty calling for Hogan's quick departure very seriously. But Hasara said it was Hogan's resignation was his own decision --- and not due to pressure from trustees.

"I don't know that we ever suggested that he resign," Hasara said. "We certainly discussed with him what we thought needed to happen, and he actually was receptive to that. But I think in the final days, he just realized that it was going to be better if he did step down."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who is an ex officio member of U of I's Board of Trustees, said in a statement he respects Hogan's decision.

"I would like to thank him for taking on the challenge of heading our state's flagship university during a difficult transition period," Quinn said.

Quinn also commented on the decision to appoint Bob Easter as university president-designate.

"I have confidence in his (Easter's) leadership and ability to continue moving the state's largest university forward," Quinn said.

Hogan will stay with the University of Illinois as a history professor.

Categories: Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Dart Container Buying Solo Cup for $1 Billion

Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation is purchasing Solo Cup Company.

The roughly $1-billion transaction was announced Thursday morning.

The Lake Forest, Illinois manufacturer of plastic cups, plates, bowls, and soufflé cups employs 600 people at its 269,000 square foot facility in Urbana.

Solo spokeswoman Angie Gorman said it is too early to say what the purchase means for the Urbana plant.

"It's premature to speculate on facilities and employment, but a lot of that planning will come soon," Gorman said.

Dart said the close of the sale will take up to six months, and no changes are expected for 6-to-12 months after that.

"We're planning to bring as many Solo employees as possible into the operation," Gorman said.

Dart makes more than 600 products, including foam cups. According to the company, the addition of Solo will broaden its product lineup and the kinds of materials they are made from.

The one change she does confirm is the company name. Gorman said the plant will become part of Dart Container Corporation, but certain products, including Solo's red cups, will maintain the Solo brand.

Solo makes the well-known red Solo cups and a variety of disposable food and drink containers out of paper, plastic and recycled materials. Solo was founded in 1936 as a paper container company and introduced its signature red plastic cup in the 1970s.

Categories: Business, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Study: Race Gap in Breast Cancer Deaths in Many Cities

African-American women with breast cancer in Chicago are more likely to die of their disease than white women.

Now a new study by Chicago researchers finds that the disparity is a widespread problem in major cities. A team from the Sinai Urban Health Institute calculated the race gap in breast cancer mortality for the nation's 25 biggest cities, and found that more than half of them have a significant disparity.

"In the United States the number of deaths that occur each year because of the disparity, not because of [just] breast cancer, is 1,700," said Steven Whitman, director of the Institute. "That's about five a day."

Chicago was among the worst cities, with black women in the city 61 percent more likely to die than white women. Memphis had the largest disparity, and three other cities fared worse than Chicago: Denver, Houston and Los Angeles. All of the data are based on the years 2005-2007.

The study authors have connections with the Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force, whose research indicates that societal factors - "racism," as Whitman bluntly put it - are mainly responsible for the disparity. Task force members say unequal access to screening mammograms is largely to blame, and point out that Illinois' program providing screening to low-income women is nearly broke. Other public health researchers note that genetics likely plays a significant role in the race gap as well.

The study was funded by the Avon Foundation and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

Categories: Health, Race/Ethnicity, Science

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

State Rep. Roger Eddy Leaves House for Education Post

Republican Roger Eddy has resigned his seat in the Illinois House.

The (Decatur) Herald & Review (http://bit.ly/GFeb5d ) reports that Eddy announced his resignation on Tuesday.

Eddy was hired last month to head the Illinois Association of School Boards, starting July 1.

He says leaving the Illinois House now gives him time to get an early jump on his new job and spend some time with his family.

Eddy is from Hutsonville and had represented the 109th House District for the past decade. He's also served as superintendent of the Hutsonville School District.

Hutsonville is about 70 miles south of Danville along theIllinois-Indiana border.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Winkel to Decline Republican Nomination for Circuit Clerk

Despite Rick Winkel's win Tuesday night against Stephanie Holderfield in the Republican primary for Champaign County Circuit Clerk, Winkel said he will decline the nomination.

Election results show Winkel won by 245 votes. Winkel dropped out of the race on Feb. 8 to accept a new job with the University of Illinois, but his name still appeared on the ballot.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said Winkel's name was still on ballots since he missed deadlines for certifying them, and when they're mailed to overseas voters.

"I believe that it's my job to count the votes as the votes were cast as an omniscient election authority and says, 'Even though we had 4,000 people who voted for a candidate who didn't run, I'm going to pretend that those votes didn't exist, and I'm not going to report them,'" Hulten said.

Hulten said he expects his office to certify Winkel as the nomination soon, and it's up to Winkel to decline it.

Winkel said that is exactly what he intends to do.

"When I withdrew from the race several weeks ago, I announced my retirement from active partisan politics," Winkel said. "Things are going very well at the University and I have no second-thoughts about my decision to withdraw from the race. Who the candidate will be is up to the local Republican Party."

Hulten said it would then be up to the county's GOP Central Committee to fill the vacancy, either by Holderfield or someone else.

Since Winkel bested Holderfield by nearly 250 votes, he will be certified as the winner in a final tally. Acting County Republican Chair Habeeb Habeeb said that means a weighted vote will be conducted by precinct committeemen, likely sometime in April for a new nomination.

He said the party will take applications from Holderfield and others interested. But Habeeb said the changeover in precinct committeemen doesn't make her shoo-in for the nomination.

"Stephanie has a good chance, but there are also other people interested as well," Habeeb said. "We'll just have to go through the process, and see how it goes."

Habeeb said name recognition may have been the reason many people voted for Winkel.

Holderfield suspects many of the votes that Winkel received were from people who didn't realize he had dropped out of the race.

"I am not sure what the next step in this process will be, however I am exploring every option that is available," Holderfield said. "I believe that I have earned the right to remain on the ballot as the Republican nominee and I feel certain that the elected precinct committeeman will see that this hard work should be rewarded."

Habeeb denies claims that voters deliberately sabotaged Holderfield's campaign, and was surprised that she lost.

Meanwhile, Barb Wysocki won a three-way Democratic Primary for Circuit Clerk Tuesday by just 16 votes. The margin is so close that the runner-up, Lori Hansen, has called them into question.

There is a chance the final vote count could change in two weeks, when additional ballots are counted. These include provisional ballots, which have been challenged, but could still be ruled valid, and mail ballots that were postmarked before the primary, but have until this Friday to arrive at the county clerk's office.

Hulten said all those ballots will be counted on Tuesday, April 3. But he doubts that will change the final outcome because he thinks those ballots will probably fall along the same percentages as the rest of the vote.

"I don't have any reason to believe that the 100, or 80 potential outstanding Democratic ballots --- there's no reason to believe that they are going to go 80% for one candidate, or 80% for the other candidate, given that everything else in the county was essentially split so closely between them," Hulten said.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Harms Wins GOP Primary for 106th House Race

Watseka Teacher Josh Harms has emerged among a field of five Republicans to win the party's nomination for the 106th House District.

The results were finalized late Tuesday night.

Harms says all the candidates agreed the goal of the campaign was bringing back jobs, but he says voters also connected with his story of what teachers deal with regarding state funding and pensions.

"I think some people did like my story," Harms said. "That's what they call it is your story, where you come from, and what you do. I think that did have something to do with it."

But Harms says voters also did their homework on this race.

"When we would knock on doors and stuff, people would say 'oh, I've read about you, I've heard you speak here," Harms said. "And the turnout was high. "I think there was 16,000 people that turned out to vote in this primary."

Harms finished with 33-percent of the vote, runner-up Tom Bennett finished with 28-percent, or about 900 fewer votes. Former Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy finished with 23-percent.

Democrats have until early June to slate a candidate to run for the 106th.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

IL House Approves End to Legislative Scholarships

Another push to get rid of legislative scholarships is underway in Illinois.

The Illinois House voted 79-25 Wednesday to end the program, which allows each lawmaker to hand out tuition waivers to students from their district. The measure now goes to the Senate, which has backed the waiver program in the past.

Each legislator can award four-year waivers to two students or divide them among up to eight students.

The program has received much criticism after revelations that some legislators award waivers to family members, political allies' children and students outside their districts. It also costs state universities millions of dollars a year.

Gov. Pat Quinn urged the Senate to abolish the program and use the money for deserving students in financial need.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Coverage of the 2012 Primary Election

On March 20, 2012, Illinois Public Media aired live coverage of the 2012 primary election hosted by News and Public Affairs Director, Craig Cohen.

The three-hour broadcast included the latest results and analysis in the GOP Presidential primary, the Democratic and Republican 13th Congressional district primaries, plus races for state legislative seats, the Champaign County Board, Auditor, and Circuit Clerk, and municipal electric aggregation referenda in Champaign-Urbana.

Throughout the evening, Craig was joined by Robert Rich (Director, Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Kent Redfield (Political Science Professor, University of Illinois at Springfield), and John Jackson (Visiting Professor, Paul Simon Policy Institute at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale).

The Election Night special was produced by Sean Powers, with assistance from Kimberlie Kranich, Celeste Quinn, Jeff Bossert, Pam Dempsey, Jill Disis, Azra Halilović, Mary Barrineau, Jack Brighton, Carina Lee, and Dan Davis. There was additional reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern, Charlie Schlenker and Brian Mackey. The technical director was Jason Croft.

HOUR 1 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion on the various races, campaign contributions, and the redistricting of legislative and congressional district maps +Interview with Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten at the Brookens Administrative Center about voter turnout +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the Presidential candidates

HOUR 2 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Conversation with Tom Kacich, editorial page editor of the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette. Kacich talked about races for circuit clerk, auditor, and county board in Champaign County +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports on the municipal electric aggregation referenda +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the 13th Congressional race, including reports from Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers and Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern

HOUR 3 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion about races during the night +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports from the Brookens Administrative Center about results from the county races +Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports from Springfield about how Congressional races across the state are shaping out +Illinois Public Radio's Charlie Schlenker reports from the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington on the 53rd Senate race between Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga) and State Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign)

Categories: Government, Politics


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