University Of Illinois Clout Panel To Call For Trustees To Resign

09/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) -- The state commission reviewing the role that clout played in admissions at the University of Illinois decided Friday to recommend Gov. Pat Quinn call for all trustees to resign and then decide which ones can stay.

The commission is at the point where they can now "straighten out their admissions process," Chairman Abner Mikva said Friday. "I think we've shed light on the excesses at the university."

The commissioners decided not to recommend that university administrators involved in the admission of politically connected applicants resign. The governor, and therefore the commission, does not have the authority to dictate personnel changes, they said.

But the commission's final report to the governor will include administrators' testimony laying out their roles in the process.

Maribeth Vander Weele was the lone commissioner to disagree with the recommendation that all trustees resign. Those who didn't influence the admissions process or know it was happening should not be faulted, she said.

But administrators who allowed politics to influence admissions shouldn't remain on staff, she added.

The Chicago Tribune reported in May that politically connected but less qualified applicants were being admitted to the university. Since then, a slew of e-mails have revealed trustees, administrators and lawmakers helped get applicants' names on a special admissions list nicknamed Category I.

Although lawmakers were mentioned prominently in the e-mails, the commission did not discuss their roles during Friday's hearing.

Some commissioners said their largest qualms about the board of trustees relate to current Chairman Niranja Shah and former Trustee Lawrence Eppley, who chaired the board for six years. Eppley resigned earlier this week.

Shah has said he does not plan to resign. His spokesman Jerry Lawrence said he had no comment Friday.

Trustee David Dorris said Friday that he and many - although not all - of the trustees would agree with the commission's recommendation.

"It's probably as good a solution as you can have," he said in a phone interview after the meeting. "It's probably the best to come out of this, for the trustees to work with the commissioner and the governor to restructure that board so that it rebuilds the university's reputation."

Trustee Robert Vickrey has said he hasn't ruled out resignation but will wait for the Illinois Admissions Review Commission report, which could be finished as early as Wednesday. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

The commission also voted Friday to recommend admissions be handled in a manner similar to that at the university's College of Medicine. The college has 25 people review applications, making corruption harder, Weele said. It also does not allow recommendation letters from anyone who does not know about the applicant's academic merits.

The commission's report also will recommend a code of conduct for trustees, suggest procedures for appointing trustees, and ask the university to take a look at staff and efforts to improve diversity.