Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner opposes the golden parachute $400,000 severance package for Chancellor Phyllis Wise, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While Rauner, a Republican, wants to cut 31.5% from the state’s higher education budget, (another Scott Walker redux) his position on Chancellor Wise’s severance package is certainly laudable.
The University of Illinois has a new board chair, Edward McMillan, a Rauner appointee. The governor in Illinois does not appoint the chair; the board of trustees makes that decision. However, anyone who replaces former chair, Christopher G. Kennedy, would presumably be an improvement. Mr. Kennedy was a pivotal figure in the viewpoint cleansing travesty when the BOT rejected the legal appointment of Dr. Steven G. Salaita, a tenured associate professor in the American Indian Studies program.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the University of Illinois system board of trustees’ executive committee will vote tomorrow whether to approve the $400,000 package that apparently lawyers negotiated for Chancellor Wise. Her resignation is also scheduled to take effect tomorrow, August 12. An interim chancellor is expected to be named as well. Hopefully, this person will have a record of supporting free speech, academic freedom, academic due process and the right to tweet antiwar sentiments without losing one’s academic position. It would be reassuring if the interim chancellor would publicly state that FOIA requests will be honoured and not, however clumsily, hidden on private e-mail accounts to escape legitimate requests for university documents.