At a news conference on the UIC campus June 10, Gov. Pat Quinn signed an executive order establishing an independent panel to examine UI admissions procedures.
UI President B. Joseph White later pledged the university’s full cooperation with the investigation.
The Admissions Review Commission, an independent group of seven appointees chosen by the governor, was created in response to news reports that some students were admitted to the Urbana-Champaign campus based on clout, Quinn said at the news conference in Student Center East.
“This was done to make sure the public understands that when someone is admitted to this institution, it’s done on their merit and that politics and undue influence has no role to play,” Quinn said.
“I hold the University of Illinois in the deepest and highest regard. It’s very important that the students, when they are admitted, have full confidence that the process was fair.”
The commission will investigate claims of special treatment for prospective students whose admission was advocated by political officials, trustees, alumni and others, with their names placed on a separate list called “Category I.”
“I am mandating complete and full cooperation with the commission from every member of the university community,” White said. “The commission will have access to everybody and everything it needs to conduct its work.”
White said university counsel Thomas Bearrows will work with the commission in responding to its requests for information.
The commission will make recommendations for improvements in the university’s admissions procedures; a final report is due Aug. 8, Quinn said.
“Transparency in admissions is a fundamental aspect of public trust,” he said. “It’s very important that we get to the bottom of this matter promptly and comprehensively.
“We all have a stake in the University of Illinois and this independent review will erase any questions and guarantee its reputation as a center of higher learning and achievement.”
Abner Mikva, former congressman, circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals and White House counsel for President Bill Clinton, chairs the commission. Mikva was a senior fellow at the university’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs in the late 1990s.
Other commission members include Ricardo Estrada, a UIC MBA graduate who is executive director of Erie Neighborhood House; Bernard Judge, former editor and publisher of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin; Doris Lowry, president of the Aspen Pine Group and director of the international trade bureau of the National Rainbow Push Coalition; Charles Scholz, a lawyer and former mayor of Quincy; Zaldwaynaka Scott, a partner at the law firm of Mayer Brown and executive inspector general for the governor’s office; and Maribeth Vander Weele, president of the corporate investigations firm Vander Weele Group and former inspector general and chief of investigations for Chicago Public Schools.
White said because of the commission’s work, the university will not create its own task force on admissions, as he had announced June 1.
“However, each campus, academic unit and admissions office should prepare for the upcoming admissions cycle for the 2010-2011 academic year with a renewed focus on the vital importance of objectivity and fairness in the admissions process,” the president said.
The university has suspended use of the Category I list until the review is completed and recommendations are considered, a spokesman said.