Measure Would Change U of I Trustee Appointment Process
By Jeff Bossert, With Additional Reporting from Illinois Public Radio
Champaign Senator Mike Frerichs hopes to alter the method by which appointments are made to the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees.
The Democrat says by allowing the alumni association to appoint five Trustees, while the governor appoints the other four, should create an effective hybrid to govern the U of I. Currently the governor appoints all nine.
Frerichs’ measure made it out of the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday with bipartisan support.
He noted there were concerns in the past when U of I trustees were elected, and more recent worries with gubernatorial appointments, namely Governor Pat Quinn’s efforts to name three trustees to the board at Southern Illinois University.
“The governor currently is responsible for making all the appointments, with the advice and consent of the Senate," Frerichs said. "And you saw when he made those last three trustee appointments at SIU, the Senate did not concur with him. I think this is a good idea for sharing power, and having some checks and balances in place.”
Last month, the Illinois Senate rejected Quinn’s appointments to SIU. The school’s president, Glenn Poshard, and at least one senator alleges the governor became involved in efforts to choose an SIU board chairman.
Frerichs said he expects his U of I measure to go before the full Senate in two weeks, after legislators return from spring break.
Meanwhile, Quinn wants the Senate to take another look at his picks for the SIU Board. None of the nominees received even a single "yes" vote. At an appearance in Springfield Tuesday, the governor said he was disappointed in how the Senate treated his picks.
"And I think the Senate needs to take another look at these excellent appointees," Quinn said. But it's unlikely that will happen.
Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman confirms the chamber has no plans to reconsider its vote. She said Senators view the issue as "closed." That could force Quinn to come up with new nominations.
The SIU appointments have exposed a political fissure between Quinn and legislators. Some Senators have complained the governor is trying to micromanage the board.
There's also a regional issue. Legislators from the Metro East , where S-I-U's Edwardsville campus is located, say they deserve equal representation on the board. S-I-U's main campus is in Carbondale.
The rejected appointees are Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Lee Milner of Springfield and Dr. Melvin Terrell of Chicago.