Quinn Backs Down, Lets U of I Board Trustees Stay

Governor says firing trustees would ensnare school in legal battle

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009  |  Updated 9:15 AM CDT
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Quinn Names 2 to U of I Board, Lets 2 Others Stay

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Quinn reverses course on firing U. of I. trustees.

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Quinn Names 2 to U of I Board, Lets 2 Others Stay

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday named two new trustees to the U of I board, while letting two others keep their jobs.
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Full speed ... backwards!

Gov. Pat Quinn reversed course on Wednesday and decided not to fire the two remaining University of Illinois trustees who refused to resign after an admissions scandal rocked the school.

Quinn now says that trying to fire the trustees would result in a lengthy legal battle.

"I think the litigation that would ensue, if I did that, would totally distract us from our mission at hand, which was rebuilding the public confidence in the integrity of the University of Illinois," Quinn said.  "That would be a side-show.  I don't think we need to have that."

Quinn had said repeatedly that he would fire the final two holdouts if they did not resign, and that he had the legal power to do so.

But James Montgomery and Frances Carroll said they considered resigning to be an admission of guilt and refused do so, even after a special commission called for all nine trustees to step down.

Seven of the nine trustees recently offered resignations.  Quinn accepted those from Chairman Niranjan Shah and former Chairman Lawrence Eppley.  Five others said they would like to continue their board terms if Quinn chose to reappoint them.

Published reports revealed the school's Urbana-Champaign campus kept a list of politically connected applicants, some of whom were admitted to the school despite lackluster credentials.

The list, known as Category I, and thousands of pages of e-mails and other documents released by the university reveal that lawmakers and university trustees often inquired about well-connected applicants.

Quinn named two new trustees Wednesday, Christopher Kennedy and Lawrence Oliver II.

Kennedy is the son of Robert Kennedy and nephew of Edward Kennedy. Oliver is chief counsel for investigations at the Boeing Co.

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