Rauner Nominates Alumni To U of I Board
Governor Bruce Rauner has nominated two alumni to the University of Illinois Board. Both of them currently serve on the board of the university’s alumni association.
In a Tuesday morning news release, Rauner’s office announced that Jill Smart and Ramon Cepeda had been named to the university’s board of trustees, pending ratification by the Illinois Senate. They will fall vacancies created by the expiration of the terms of Pam Strobel and Chris Kennedy.
Jill Smart is secretary of the Alumni Association board. She’s also the president of the nonprofit National Academy of Human Resources. Until her retirement, she was a human resources executive with Accenture, the management consulting, tech services and outsourcing company.
Smart has also served as an adjunct professor in the U of I’s school of business. She said the governor’s proposed cut of more than $200-million in state funds to the univeristy is similar to what other organizations are going through.
“The large cut that has been proposed, of course, is disappointing," she said. "But I think at the same time, we really need to work together to make sure that we can live within our means, but yet at the same time, not harm our core mission of being a premier education a research institution," he said.
Smart said her consulting background helps her ask better questions, while Cepeda, the senior vice president at Northern Trust and graduate of the U of I’s Chicago campus, said he brings his own business expertise.
“I think I bring some unique experiences to the kind of diversity of board – by nature of industry," he said. "I’m in banking, specifically in commercial real estate, I think there’s certainly – when you deal with a higher instution like the university, there’s a lot of real estate involved.”
Cepeda is also managing director of Northern Trusts' wealth management division. He supported Rauner during his gubernatorial campaign, as a member of Democrats and Independents for Rauner.
Smart earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Cepeda earned a criminal justice degree from the University of Illinois in 1990.
State Representative Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) praised the nominations of Smart and Cepeda, along with his earlier reappointment of alumni Ed McMillan to the Board of Trustees. Trustees voted to make McMillan their new chairman last month, succeeding Kennedy.
Rose said Gov. Rauner's latest trustee nominations fulfill his campaign pledge to look to the U of I Alumni Association for trustee appointments.
"He has honored that commitment", said Rose in a news release, "and how refreshing it is to have Trustees that truly love the University as demonstrated by their prior service to it."
Rauner's nomination of new U of I trustees comes as the university faces significant proposed budget cuts in his recent budget plan for FY 2016.