Rauner taps Chicago corporate attorney for last UI trustees vacancy


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SPRINGFIELD — After a 16-month vacancy, Gov. Bruce Rauner has named another Chicago corporate attorney to fill the last empty seat on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Sanford "Sandy" Perl of Glencoe, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago and a 1987 UI alumnus, is the last appointment made by Rauner to replace three former trustees whose terms expired in January 2017. The board has nine statewide members appointed by the governor.

Rauner's office filed the appointment late Monday afternoon with the Secretary of State's office and planned to announce it this morning.

Perl attended the UI from 1983 to 1987 and graduated with a degree in accountancy before earning his law degree from the University of Michigan. According to his Kirkland & Ellis biography, his principal clients include corporations and private equity firms, including Rauner's old firm, GTCR.

His appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.

"Sandy's commitment to elevating the expectations of what can be accomplished at the University of Illinois makes him a forward-thinking addition to the board of our world-renown university," Rauner said in a release.

Perl said it was a "true honor" to join the board of a university that has had a meaningful impact on his life.

In the release, Perl said he is eager to improve the university's outreach to alumni and encourage them to commit their time and resources to the UI long after graduation and to help the UI "enhance the lives of the citizens of Illinois, across the nation and around the world, through leadership in learning, discovery, engagement and economic development."

Perl serves on the national board of directors for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the board of directors for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the executive committee for the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. He is the honored recipient of the Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee.

'Engaged in our state'

Perl's law practice focuses on the corporate, securities and tax aspects of complex business transactions, including leveraged buy-outs of public and private companies, strategic mergers, acquisitions, venture capital, initial public offerings, private equity fund formations, executive compensation, and debt and equity restructuring.

He's managed transactions in health care, manufacturing, distribution, staffing, leasing, biotechnology and media. He joined Kirkland & Ellis in 1990 and has been a partner since 1996.

The governor's office said Perl has a "passion for transparency and good governance" as the chair of the audit committee at his law firm. He has been listed as a "Leading Lawyer for Business" in the category of "Private Equity" in Chambers USA every year since 2004.

He is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, the American Bar Association and recipient of the Elijah Watt Sells Award on the Uniform CPA Examination.

"Sandy is one great example of a University of Illinois graduate who has stayed engaged in our state and will work to help improve our education system," Rauner said.

Last January, the terms of three trustees expired: Democrats Patricia Brown-Holmes and Ricardo Estrada and Republican Karen Hasara. At the time, the governor said he hoped to fill those vacancies with "superstar" talent who would make national or international headlines.

In March, Rauner appointed a former business associate, Chicago private equity investor Donald Edwards. A Democrat and a former UI golfer, Edwards is CEO of Flexpoint Ford, a private equity firm he founded in 2005. A few years earlier, Edwards was also a principal at GTCR.

In July, the governor appointed Republican Stuart King of Champaign — a Christie Clinic physician with three degrees from the UI — to the second six-year opening.

Political affiliations

The governor's office did not specify Perl's party affiliation, though Rauner was free to appoint a Republican, Democrat or another independent to this seat.

Under state law, no more than five of the nine appointed trustees can be from the same party.

Without Perl, the board has four Republicans (King, board Chairman Tim Koritz, Edward McMillan and Jill Smart), two Democrats (Edwards and James Montgomery) and two independents (Patrick Fitzgerald and Ramon Cepeda). Three student trustees are also elected each year, one from each campus, and one has an official vote.

According to the State Board of Elections, Perl has contributed $23,750 to Illinois political candidates, split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats, mostly since 2009.

The bulk of the Democratic contributions — $11,000 — went to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in 2010 and 2015. Perl also gave $500 to Democratic attorney general candidate Nancy Rotering in 2010.

On the GOP side, Perl donated to campaigns for former Illinois Treasurer and State Sen. Dan Rutherford ($2,500), former State Rep. Tom Cross ($1,000), 2010 gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna ($1,000) and other state and local candidates from suburban Chicago.

In 2015, he also gave $1,000 to Chicago City Council candidate Amy Crawford, a colleague at his law firm running in a nonpartisan race.


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).