Yesterday, I presented legislation to bring balance to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Currently, the governor appoints all nine permanent trustees. My proposal would allow the board of the University of Illinois Alumni Association to appoint five of the nine while the governor fills the other four seats.
Trustees used to be elected by the voters of Illinois, but candidates were often relative unknowns slated by political parties, and few voters were informed about their choices. Jim Edgar was the first governor to appoint U of I trustees.
Governors come and go, but over the years we've seen appointments politicized at other institutions. It makes sense to allow an organization with knowledge of and a proven passion for the university to have a say in picking the trustees who govern our flagship institution of higher learning. Making the appointment process more balanced will help the University of Illinois avoid some of the unnecessary political battles that have taken place elsewhere, most recently at Southern Illinois University.
The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 46 (Amendment #1) yesterday; the next step is debate and a vote on the Senate floor. If the measure passes, the change will be phased in gradually, beginning in 2015.
It's always a pleasure to work with the Alumni Association for the benefit of the University of Illinois, and I look forward to discussing this legislation further with my colleagues in the legislature.