CHICAGO — When Gov. Pat Quinn asked Patrick Fitzgerald if he wanted to serve on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the former federal prosecutor called it a "no brainer."
"I was delighted. It was an easy decision on my end," Fitzgerald told The News-Gazette on Friday morning, "knowing lots of people have an appreciation of what an important institution it is in the state and the opportunities it gives folks."
Quinn announced earlier today the appointment of the former U.S. Attorney to the board. Fitzgerald replaces Trustee Lawrence Oliver II, a lawyer for the Boeing Corp.
Patrick Fitzgerald, now a partner in the Chicago office of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, led numerous high-profile investigations and prosecutions, including the convictions on corruption charges of former Illinois Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, and the fraud conviction of media figure Conrad Black.
Fitzgerald plans to attend next week's board meeting in Chicago and said he envisions his role on the board as someone who asks lots of questions.
"I want to dig down before making decisions on things and casting a vote," he said.
On Friday, Quinn also reappointed Trustees Timothy N. Koritz and James Montgomery. Koritz is a U.S. Air Force veteran and serves as staff anesthesiologist at Rockford Memorial Hospital. Koritz was previously appointed to the board in 2009. Montgomery is a Chicago attorney and has served on the board since 2007. Both are UI alumni.
"I am looking forward very much to meeting and working with (Patrick Fitzgerald). He's had a stellar career and is highly respected in his field," Koritz said.
Fitzgerald, whose undergraduate degree is from Amherst College (1982, Phi Beta Kappa) and law degree is from Harvard Law School (1985), was the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 2001 to last year.
"Patrick Fitzgerald has served the people of Illinois well and he will be an outstanding member of our outstanding leadership team at Illinois' flagship university," Quinn said. "Today's appointees are talented, accomplished individuals who believe in the power of education. Together, they will help guide our universities to continued excellence."
Fitzgerald has received numerous honors for his more than 20 years in public service including the Justice John Paul Stevens Award from the Chicago Bar Association. He was previously named "Lawyer of the Year" by The National Law Journal.
The governor also announced three reappointments to the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees: businessman Robert Boey, who has served on the board since 1996; Dr. John Butler, a Chicago-area business consultant who is an NIU alumnus and has served on the board since 2007; and Wheeler Coleman, vice president and chief technology officer at Heath Care Service Corp. and former vice-president of the NIU Alumni Association, who was previously appointed by Quinn in 2011.