Text of White's speech to UI senate from earlier this month

Text of White's speech to UI senate from earlier this month

Speech by UI President B. Joseph White to Urbana-Champaign Senate on Sept. 14:

Two weeks ago, I told you I regretted the admissions problems that occurred on this campus. I told you that I did not admit candidates noted as denials, nor did I ask or expect them to be admitted. I did not direct the admission of any candidate. The Mikva Commission report is consistent with this record.

Today, I want to tell you things I did do as president.

For four-and-a-half years, I have worked to insulate this university from external pressures in an extremely difficult and intensely political environment. From the outset, I understood that was my job.

– I stood behind every admissions denial, no matter who the advocates or how persistent they were.

– I said no when I was told that Governor Blagojevich's office wanted a new (Institute of Government and Public Affairs) research report killed rather than published.

– I said no when a senior aide to Governor Blagojevich told me the administration was at war and I was in their army. He asked if I had read the organization chart. He berated me for not supporting the Gross Receipts Tax proposal. I told the aide that the president of the University reports to a board; that I am independent and not in anyone's army; and that I would not support bad policy.

Throughout my presidency, I have consistently said no when no was the right answer. I have protected the university's autonomy. I have defended faculty freedoms of inquiry and expression. That was my job and I did it.

So let me be clear. The notion that I would submit to pressure – or apply pressure – for admissions or anything else in order to please the high and mighty is dead wrong. I never did. It would have been completely out of character. I am not and never have been a servant of power.

I came to Illinois in 2005 a fiercely independent person and high integrity leader. I still am.

I appreciate your listening. I welcome your comments and questions.

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