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University Of Illinois President Ends Clout List, Sets Scandal Reform Deadline

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois President B. Joseph White on Wednesday scrapped the school's special admissions list of politically connected applicants and gave campus leaders eight weeks to take other measures to prevent future scandals over the influence of clout.

White told leaders and admissions officials from the university's campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield in a closed-door meeting that the school will follow recommendations made in a scathing report on the admissions scandal last week to Gov. Pat Quinn by the Illinois Admissions Review Commission, according to a prepared statement he read as the gathering began. The report confirmed that unqualified students were admitted because of their political connections

White declined, however, to say whether any university officials who answer to him will lose their jobs.

The reforms include building a so-called firewall around the admissions process, one that bars high-level university officials from admissions; setting up a procedure for handling inquiries from lawmakers or anyone else inquiring about student applications; and creating an admissions code of conduct.

"If I were to write a one-sentence code, it would be this: Everyone above the dean level and everyone whose jobs does not involve direct responsibility for admissions will stay out of admissions," White told reporters after the meeting.

Rep. Mike Boland, the chairman of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee, said he would reserve judgment on White's plan because he doesn't expect the president to keep his job.

"I think when the new trustees come on, they may decide that they want somebody else," the East Moline Democrat said in a telephone interview. "Personally, I don't see how he'll be able to stay."

Commission members did not call for White, Herman or other administrators to step down, but said the next board of trustees should decide whether they keep their jobs. The trustees are scheduled to meet next on Sept. 10.

The university suspended the use of the special admissions list, called Category I, shortly after its existence and the role it played in admissions in Urbana-Champaign came to light in news reports in late May.

White said as of Wednesday, the list is done.

Quinn appointed the commission to examine admissions at the school after the news reports.

The panel's report recommended that the nine trustees who oversee the three campuses resign and faulted White for both failing to oversee admissions officials involved in the scandal and for participating himself.

The commission also heavily blamed Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Richard Herman for his role in admitting underqualified students. In news interviews this week, he's acknowledged fault.

Herman did not meet with reporters after Wednesday's meeting, which he attended, but in a statement called it productive.

"The timeframe before us is ambitious," he said. "The changes we implement will ensure that we continue to attract the highly qualified and diverse pool of students each year who will go on to become the leaders of their generation."

White said Wednesday that decisions about campus personnel involved in the scandal would follow the reform process of the next eight weeks.

Quinn has asked for trustees to step down. So far, three have: Chairman Niranjan Shah, Lawrence Eppley and Ed McMillan.

The governor said Wednesday that he will give them a few more days and vowed to act within "a short period of time."

"We're not going to let it fester," he said in Chicago.

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Associated Press writer Caryn Rousseau in Chicago contributed to this report.

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