UI alumni group ignored by Blagojevich
SPRINGFIELD - Four new members have been appointed to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in the last three months.
All the selections have been made by Gov. Rod Blagojevich without any input from the UI Alumni Association, despite promises the organization would be included in the process.
Blagojevich appointed Frances Carroll one week ago to replace Tom Lamont, who left the board on Friday for a post with the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Blagojevich appointed three new trustees in February to replace trustees whose terms had expired.
"This is a very disappointing development, not because of the person involved but because of the process that was announced and reiterated and then again ignored," said Joel Weisman, who was chairman of the alumni association board of directors until his term expired Friday.
The governor's office did not respond to calls Friday.
During his campaign, Blagojevich told alumni association officials they would be involved in the selection process, Weisman said. The organization prepared a list of possible candidates for the board of trustees at the governor's request before he made any appointments, but there was no inquiry from his office about those recommendations or any discussion of the governor's candidates.
Weisman and association President Loren Taylor expressed their disappointment about their lack of involvement in February. The governor's office then acknowledged it should have involved the organization more.
"This is the second opportunity to do that, and he totally ignored it," Weisman said. "When he ignored it the first time, his staff asserted it was an oversight. Given that it's happened again, it's hard to believe it's an oversight. One has to wonder how seriously you can take a pledge given in the campaign."
Weisman said it is not the goal of the alumni association to have the governor choose all candidates for the board from its list.
But it does want to ensure that trustees are familiar with the UI and the history of its governance.
Weisman said he would like to see a certain number of trustees who are UI graduates. He said he and other members of the university community have discussed pursuing legislation to develop more specific criteria for trustees, including a requirement that a certain number be graduates of the university.
"This doesn't mean we're looking for rubber stamps. We're looking for people who will come in and hit the ground running," Weisman said.
You can reach Jodi Heckel at (217) 351-5216 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.