Bambenek named to IBHE position

Bambenek named to IBHE position

SPRINGFIELD — Former Champaign school board member and onetime Republican state Senate candidate John Bambenek of Champaign has been appointed to the Illinois Board of Higher Education by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Bambenek's appointment must be approved by the Illinois Senate, which is dominated by Democrats.

"Bambenek's experiences as a lecturer at the University of Illinois and as a small business owner will bring a unique perspective to the board," the governor's office said Friday in announcing Bambenek's appointment. "Since 2013, Bambenek has taught classes in cybersecurity at the University of Illinois. He is also president of Bambenek Consulting LTD, which conducts cybersecurity investigations and intelligence. He has provided professional education and conducted forensic examinations. Additionally, he is the manager of threat intelligence systems at Fidelius Cyber Security."

The 38-year-old Bambenek, who is married and the father of four, said he thought he could maintain all of his other duties and the board appointment "without too much impact to my schedule otherwise."

Bambenek has a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from the UI.

He said he had been talking about serving in the Rauner administration for some time.

"I've been indicating that I wanted to do something policy-oriented for a while. It's not like my interest in doing something is news. It was just a question of finding the thing that fit," said Bambenek.

"I have a keen interest in education generally and certainly higher education."

He said he had "some ideas" about higher education but said he would hold off voicing them "until I've talked to Tom (Cross, the newly appointed head of the IBHE) a little bit, and get to know the other board members. Everybody's got ideas but it's a question of scope. And a large part of it depends on higher education appropriations."

For now, Illinois higher education is operating without an appropriation, because of an ongoing budget and policy dispute between Rauner and the Democratic Legislature, and Chicago State University is in danger of running out of money later this month.

"The governor wants a budget; the General Assembly wants a budget. The parameters of what that looks like are different between the two factions. By and large we're all observers in that," Bambenek said. "When someone wants my opinion on what the higher ed appropriation should look like, I'll be happy to work with staff to figure that out."

Bambenek said he hoped a budget agreement could be reached soon, "but in the absence of a higher ed appropriation that's probably what's going to consume our time: the unplanned consolidation of higher education institutions and trying to keep the lights on."

Bambenek opposed current State Treasurer Mike Frerichs of Champaign in the 52nd Senate District race in 2012, losing 65 percent to 35 percent.

He also served on the Champaign school board from February 2014 to April 2015.

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narciblog wrote on April 16, 2016 at 11:04 am

Bambenek supports the teaching of creationism in science classes, supports replacing public schools with private, and is a raging misogynist. Not appropriate for public office. He couldn't even get elected to the school board in Champaign.

The only person I can think of less appropriate to set education policy is that crazy woman from Texas who says Obama was a gay prostitute.

spangwurfelt wrote on April 16, 2016 at 11:04 am

Another giant step backwards for one-and-done Rauner's approach to higher education.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Seems like he would be better guarding the governor's state e-mail, private e-mail regarding state business, and schedule. 

The appointment is just like the Rauner appointments to the state's Industrial and Labor Relations Board, the state's Ethics Board of which "opinion writer" James Nowlan sits on, and other multiple boards and commissions.  Odd that governor Rauner pushes for the abolishment of local townships while the state has a huge numer of boards and commissions.  The appointments are payoffs for supporting Rauner.

Sorry, that was a secret which the public is not to know.  Hopefully, Bambenek is not reading retired employees e-mails, and comments.  There is enough intrus

Glock21 wrote on April 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm

No comment necessary to folks that have argued and debated with him on the local blogosphere. Democrats... this is what happens when you don't vote in midterms and state elections... seriously... this is what happens. It's like Rauner appointed our own local Donald Trump to deal with education policy... so basically your worst racist uncle. 

Spence wrote on April 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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Don't you democrats ever tire of calling those you disagree with racist.... you have cried wolf so many times NO ONE believes you, it only make you look stupid

Glock21 wrote on April 17, 2016 at 5:04 pm

a) I'm not a Democrat, I'm an annoyed classical liberal federalist independent and b) There's a sad irony of someone with a Chief Illinewek avatar defending the racial tolearance of a politician notoroious for being racially insensisitive on local social media for years and c) it's made all the more sad that the irony is lost on you.

But, thanks for letting me know that I appear stupid. Your expertise and experience in the matter is appreciated.

moderndaycowboy wrote on April 16, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Further proof of Rauner's systematice plan to completely destroy publich higher education in Illinois.

Spence wrote on April 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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What a drama queen, Rauner couldn't do what the democrats have already done, they have been screwing up higher education for 35 years.

Naturally the democrats made higher education unfordable for many, many graduates can't even pay off their loans they needed to receive their worthless degrees... and you are afraid Rauner is going to screw it up?  LOL

C. Alcyon wrote on April 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

"Bambenek has a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from the UI."

There is no such major.

But you know how, in bad action movies, when the screenwriters want to convince an understandably skeptical audience that someone is REALLY SMART even though he or she doesn't look or act it, they make him or her an "astrophysicist"? And the audience remains unconvinced?

Yeah, it's like that.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 19, 2016 at 6:04 pm
bambenek wrote on April 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

Ok, to be strictly technical is was a dual major of Astronomy and Physics with a minor in Mathematics. My two senior projects (dual major so two projects) were research in the extragalactic distance scale and cosmic ray muon detection. Take that as you will. 

PSL wrote on April 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm

What's your position on bringing back the old racist dancing mascot?

Spence wrote on April 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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John is a GREAT choice!