Kennedy likely to get another term as UI board chairman

Kennedy likely to get another term as UI board chairman

Chris Kennedy has chaired the University of Illinois Board of Trustees since his appointment in 2009, and that's unlikely to change when the board holds its annual election today.

Kennedy is expected to win another term as chairman when trustees meet at the UI's Chicago campus.

Trustees Edward McMillan and Pamela Strobel are also expected to be named to the board's executive committee with Kennedy, as they have since 2009.

"I've spoken with all of the board members, and I think there's support for everyone continuing in their current roles," Kennedy said Tuesday.

Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, was first appointed trustee in September 2009, after most former members resigned following the Category I admissions scandal, in which politically connected students received admission over more qualified applicants.

The new board named him chairman until January 2010, when he was elected to a full one-year term. He has been re-elected each year since.

The board's bylaws state that the chairman is expected to serve "two consecutive terms of one year each."

Trustees have discussed rotating the position but opted to keep Kennedy in that seat.

Kennedy said a rotation makes sense for "mature" boards where members have served for many years.

"Our board is a little bit different," he said. "We came in cold. It takes awhile just to understand how the university functions. I'd say it's supercollegial. ... My role is not so much as a leader as much as a facilitator for the board's activities."

Kennedy said he talked with other trustees to see if anyone else was interested, and noted that the board's governance committee allows them to "have their voice heard."

"So many of them have lots of time pressures from other commitments. I don't think they feel like they could balance taking on more responsibility and workload," he said.

"I think is a great privilege," he said.

Kennedy's six-year term ends in 2015. Will he seek another term? "That is entirely up to the governor," he said.

Kennedy received his bachelor's degree at Boston College and an MBA from Northwestern University. He is past president of the Merchandise Mart.

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