U of I Prez To Testify

Helped clout students in despite vow

Today is B. Joseph White's turn in front of the state admissions scandal review board, and he's got some explaining to do.

"As the University of Illinois' chief steward, President B. Joseph White has disavowed an admissions system found to have rewarded applicants backed by powerful patrons -- even though he, too, at times had sought special consideration for candidates," the Tribune reports.

"The university's 16th president asked a subordinate to 'flag' the application of a relative of former Chicago Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico, and asked for a 'careful review' of an applicant endorsed by nationally syndicated columnist George Will, a Tribune examination of thousands of pages of records show.

"White let colleagues know he had personal ties to applicants from North Carolina and Michigan, and as previously reported, he passed along an admissions recommendation from then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for a relative of Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, a Blagojevich fundraiser. The applicant, who was to be denied admission, was instead admitted."

Here's the kicker: White once wrote a book on leadership.

At least he'll be appearing. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), the pol who used the university's clout list most often, is refusing to testify. So is Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego).

"Madigan, who made more admissions inquiries than any other legislator in the last five years, believes he has little to contribute to the probe, his spokesman said," the Tribune reports.

"He was only responding to constituent requests," spokesman Steve Brown said. "That's the only thing he would be able to tell them."

Sources could not confirm whether Brown laughed his head off after making that statement and hanging up the phone.

"Cullerton intervened on eight applications, including a 2009 case in which he pushed the U. of I. to immediately accept a New Trier High School student from the waiting list," the Tribune reports. " It's unclear if the applicant, who did not live in his district, was admitted at that time.

"A spokeswoman for the Senate president said he recently told Mikva he would help the commission in any way he could."

"But he didn't feel testifying would add to the investigation," spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said.

Right. There's no way Madigan or Cullerton could possibly add anything of interest to the review board's work! 

Talk about leadership. Between our statehouse pols and our state university president, weve got enough to fill a thimble.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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