U. of I. Faculty Postpones Vote on President, Chancellor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The school's admissions scandal has been the focus of heavy media coverage since May, when news reports revealed that the Urbana-Champaign campus tracked candidates with political connections through a list.

    It's going to be a little while longer before a decision is made on whether the University of Illinois will begin looking for replacements for President B. Joseph White and Urbana-Champaign campus Chancellor Richard Herman.

    The university's faculty senate last week approved the nonbinding resolution calling for both men to be replaced for their roles in the recent admissions scandal, but only after successors are found. After hearing that White and some faculty members believed the vote would be rushed, Senate members decided in a 91-66 vote Monday to put the matter off until Sept. 14.

    White, who was at the meeting on the Urbana-Champaign campus, said afterward that the Senate made the right call.

    "I think it's important to do important things the right way," he told reporters. "Many faculty just returned from the summer. They're just beginning to focus on these matters."

    One Senate member who voted to wait said he didn't feel like he knew enough yet about what his colleagues want.

    "What we want to do now is go back and get a better sense," said Robert Darmody, a soil science professor.

    The school's admissions scandal has been the focus of heavy media coverage since May, when news reports revealed that the Urbana-Champaign campus tracked candidates with political connections through a list, since killed, known as Category I. Some members of that list were admitted to the school in spite of their relatively poor academic credentials.

    Gov. Pat Quinn created the Illinois Admissions Review Commission to examine the influence of clout on university admissions. Both university leaders drew criticism from the panel, particularly Herman, who bargained to get favored candidates into law school and, in the commissioners' view, failed to try to stop the scandal.

    White told faculty Senate members Monday that, though he passed along inquiries about two students from former Govs. Rod Blagojevich and James Thompson and once made his own inquiry, he didn't know about the broader Category I system or the degree to which political influence was tracked.

    "I assure you that had I known about these practices, I would have challenged them," he said.

    A handful of Senate members challenged White.

    "How can you say you did not know?" architecture professor Vidar Lerum asked.

    "I'm a very attentive president, and it never came to light," White said before leaving the podium to silence from the several hundred people in the room. "It never came up."

    Herman told the faculty that he didn't think he could have stopped Category I.

    "I believe that I did not have the power to end this system that had been long in the making and ingrained in our state's political culture," he said before exiting the room to scattered applause from faculty on the campus he oversaw.