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University of Illinois President Tim Killeen

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URBANA — University of Illinois trustees renewed an annual $100,000 performance bonus for President Tim Killeen on Thursday, praising his work on several initiatives but also pushing for quick action on the UI’s review of sexual-misconduct policies on campus.

The board Thursday also approved a $115,500 raise for UI Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, who has overseen acquisition of the John Marshall Law School, financial improvements at the UI Hospital and five straight years of record enrollment. His new salary will be $600,000 annually.

Amiridis said afterward he appreciated the “vote of confidence” for work done by the entire Chicago campus: “I’m glad to continue the momentum.”

Killeen has received the same $100,000 performance bonus each year since he was hired in 2015, based on goals set with the board.

Board Chairman Don Edwards cited Killeen’s “outstanding” performance and “remarkable” dedication to the university and highlighted the UI’s record enrollment gains, consistently strong rankings and efforts to hold down student costs.

“We couldn’t be happier with his work over the last 12 months,” Edwards said after the meeting.

But in his closing comments Thursday, Edwards encouraged the university to expedite its review of policies governing sexual-misconduct cases that have raised concerns across the UI.

“This has been a great year, but we do have challenges,” Edwards said. “We look forward to receiving ... recommendations for refined, clearer policies on sexual misconduct and student-faculty relationships.”

Killeen said he has received preliminary recommendations from the task force headed by Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson and expects to bring a resolution to the board for approval in November. An Urbana campus committee plans to release its recommendations this fall as well.

“It’s a substantial focus,” Killeen after the meeting. “We have clear guidance to be expeditious about policy changes.”

Killeen said he was personally “very disappointed” at the ongoing revelations about sexual misconduct by UI faculty and staff and complaints that the university didn’t take action fast enough.

“It’s not just here, it’s nationally. I think we’ve got some cultural changes in society that we really need to” address at a leadership level, he said.

“It’s always disappointing when you hear of egregious behavior,” he said. “I’m particularly concerned about timeliness, that we get on top of these things.

“But we’ve got to be fair and we’ve got to be judicious and we’ve got to balance protection for survivors and others. All of that is on the table,” Killeen said.

The recommendations address staffing levels, training, the “absolute” need to protect students’ educational experiences, and the “power-imbalance relationships driving the way people interact on a personal level,” he said.

“We’re in a different universe now,” he said.

In a written report on Killeen’s evaluation, the board praised the new distinguished faculty hiring program and progress on the Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network, encouraging the president to recruit more corporate partners for the latter two initiatives.

They also commended Killeen for providing stability during “financially turbulent times in recent years” and for his planning efforts and leadership development.

They provided suggestions on diversity and inclusion, including “viewpoint diversity,” and encouraged Killeen to do all he could to make the UI a national leader in recruiting and retaining minority students and faculty, the report said. Further work to support diverse contractors and suppliers for the UI was also a priority.

Trustees advised Killeen to continue a push for affordability while maintaining admission standards. They recognized the UI’s growing revenue, improved marketing efforts and Killeen’s legislative advocacy, but added a note of caution about the state’s pension deficit.

“The trustees noted that sexual misconduct, hostile environment and freedom of speech are nationwide issues, and encouraged the president to complete work with misconduct/harassment task forces with guidelines and policies that are consistent and fair,” the report said.

Killeen said the bonus is “personally gratifying and humbling. It’s more about the support and affirmation for the direction that the university’s moving in. But there’s a lot more work to do.”

The board observed a moment of silence Thursday for Susan Loving Gravenhorst of Lake Forest, a UI trustee from 1984 to 2002 and board chairwoman from 1997 to 1999. Mrs. Gravenhorst, who died Sept. 15, was the first Republican woman elected to the board (before it was changed to an appointed body) and the first woman to chair the athletic committee. She also served on the UI Foundation board.

“Her support of the University was unwavering,” her son Hugo Gravenhorst said in an email.

In other action Thursday:

— The board delegated authority to Vice President and CFO Avijit Ghosh to proceed with agreements for a 32,000-square-foot expansion of the Illinois Conference Center in the UI Research Park. It will be built by park developer Fox/Atkins and leased by the university, with the option to buy it for $13 million. Construction is scheduled to start in November and take about a year.

— Trustees approved a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sol Systems LLC to operate the UI’s second solar farm in Savoy, along Curtis Road near First Street. It will nearly triple the UI’s solar-energy capacity and help the campus meet its renewable energy targets.

— The board adopted a $6.97 billion operating budget for the UI System, or about $5.25 billion without state payments for pensions and benefits. State funding makes up 12 percent of that total ($628.7 million), while tuition accounts for 25 percent ($1.3 billion). Overall revenue was up 5.2 percent, including gifts and endowments, research contracts, hospital/physician income, and housing fees and other auxiliary facility income.

— The annual “gray book” of academic and administrative appointments and salaries was also approved.

Reporter/Columnist

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).