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*** UPDATED x3 - “All heck breaks loose” *** Senate rebukes Quinn over SIU spat

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE 1 *** I’m told that all heck broke loose at the SIU trustee meeting today. “Herrin and Poshard allegedly had a heated shouting match in front of the media in which four letter words were used,” said one local.


So far, just a simple story in The Southern

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees failed to establish a quorum for its scheduled meeting Thursday in Edwardsville, one day after the state Senate rejected three new appointees by Gov. Pat Quinn to the group.

Trustee Marquita Wiley was not in attendance for Thursday’s meeting. Since the board has lost former trustees John Simmons, Ed Hightower and Mark Hinrichs and the Senate rejected new appointments Sandra Cook, Melvin Terrell and Lee Milner, there weren’t enough members left to conduct regular business.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The Alton Telegraph has more

In addition, a growing board dispute spilled more into the open during an exchange between SIU President Glenn Poshard and trustee Roger Herrin, in which Poshard accused Herrin of engineering this week’s departure of the board’s general counsel. SIU announced Wednesday that General Counsel Jeff McLellan has announced that he will retire effective March 1.

During the exchange, Poshard and Herrin, of Harrisburg, were openly hostile to each other.

Poshard accused Herrin of “rigging” the vote for general counsel.

Herrin responded: “If you’re going to accuse me of rigging the vote, you better have something to back it up. That’s going beyond the pale,” Herrin said.

Poshard said Herrin’s pick for general counsel was 11th on the list. A selection committee narrowed the field down to three.
“I have the e-mails (to prove it),” Poshard said.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The Southern has updated

The argument got particularly heated after Herrin said Poshard was once a good friend of his. Poshard said that when people ask him to rig elections, for the general counsel, it doesn’t matter if that person is “a friend or anything else.”

Herrin then responded that Poshard had crossed a line and said if Poshard thought he did something illegal then he should “put on his big boy pants and go after it.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Not a good day for Gov. Pat Quinn

In a rare move, the Illinois Senate on Wednesday slapped down Gov. Pat Quinn’s latest appointments to the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees.

Just two days after Quinn nominated new members to the board, senators used their appointment powers to send a strong message to the governor that they don’t approve of his tinkering with the makeup of the board.

The governor’s proposed appointments of Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Dr. Melvin Terrell of Chicago and Lee Milner of Springfield received zero “yes” votes, 23 “no” votes and 32 “present” votes.

The smackdown marked just the latest tussle involving Quinn’s attempt to install current Trustee Roger Herrin of Harrisburg as chairman.

The three trustees targeted for replacement by Quinn — John Simmons of East Alton, Mark Hinrichs of O’Fallon and Ed Hightower of Edwardsville — had been part of a coup to oust Herrin as chairman in 2011 after board members and university President Glenn Poshard complained of Herrin’s management style.

Not a single Senator voted for Quinn’s nominees, with 23 voting “No” and 32 voting “Present.” Most of those voting “Present” were Democrats, while Republicans and some Downstate Dems and some Black Caucus members voting “No.”

* Sun-Times

Herrin, a Quinn appointee and one-time SIU board chairman, has clashed sharply with Poshard over his management of the university, blaming the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee for not stemming declining enrollment and doing a poor job of overseeing university finances.

Herrin owns nursing homes and banks and has donated more than $27,000 to Quinn, state records show.

In a blistering floor speech Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D-Belleville) accused Herrin of not making minority enrollment a priority and questioned the desire to put him back in charge of the SIU board.

“It concerns me there’s a push to make this individual the chairman of the board. What direction are we going? What message are we sending by appointing or placing an individual on this board, who does not believe that everybody should receive an opportunity to go to college, that we’ll close the doors on those individuals not because of their merit, not because of the hard work they put into it, but because they’re a minority?” Clayborne said. […]

Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), whose district includes SIU’s Edwardsville campus, said he knew little about the Quinn appointees’ backgrounds and questioned the governor’s desire to see three pro-Poshard trustees driven from the board.

Metro East members were mainly upset that two of their folks were booted from the board, including Simmons, a hugely successful (and politically active) asbestos attorney, and Hightower, the superintendent of Edwardsville’s school district who is widely feared in the area.

* Poshard and Quinn have been fighting for a few years now, and it enraged Quinn when Poshard moved the governor’s hand-picked chairman out of the spot and installed Simmons. Some background

The big move by the governor resulted from turmoil that erupted on the board about a year ago, according to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, based in Carbondale.

Poshard has been a consistent critic of Herrin, according to the paper. Hinrichs said he and the other trustees who opposed Herrin were told they would be replaced if they did not go along with him.

Despite the threat, they replaced him as chairman with Simmons. Hinrichs said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the Southern Illinoisan’s account is correct.

* The Senate essentially forced Quinn back to the negotiating table with Poshard. This round goes to the southerner. But I wouldn’t expect Quinn to give up anytime soon. Check out the official response

“The students of Southern Illinois University’s three campuses deserve better than they got today,” Anderson noted. “Instead of playing politics, the members of the Senate should give Sandra Cook, Dr. Melvin Terrell and Lee Milner a fair hearing.”

* Meanwhile

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, introduced legislation in the Illinois House Rules Committee on Wednesday proposing to split the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.

House Bill 3389 would amend the Southern Illinois University Management Act, abolish the board of trustees and create separate boards for the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses.

The legislation also proposes the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield would be associated with the Edwardsville campus, not Carbondale. […]

SIU President Glenn Poshard said he previously convinced legislators that the SIU campuses are healthier as a system.

Poshard said there is a lot of anger in Metro East about the lack of SIU Edwardsville representation on the board of trustees, other than the campus’ student trustee.

“I’m sure he (Hoffman) is upset,” Poshard said. “People in the Metro East have a lot of pride in that school.”


  1. - Esquire - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:27 am:

    I could see some people being unhappy about Quinn wanting to appoint a Chicagoan to the SIU board. Choosing a local would make more sense.

  2. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:27 am:

    Seems a bit daft not to have some Metro East on that board…

  3. - Bardo - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:31 am:

    Quinn is out-matched here. Spitting in the faces of Poshard, Simmons and Hightower is:

    A.) Not in the best interest of the University — they’ve served it well.

    B.) A strange move for a guy who’s already less popular in S. Illinois than his now jailed predecessor.

  4. - Mason born - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:33 am:

    Got my degree from SIUE and to be honest the split makes a lot of sense. SIUE has a very excellent Science based curiculum i.e. Engineering and Pre-med yet is starved for cash by SIU board. Might be a good idea to look at what MO did with University of Mo at Rolla. Where they focused the school on Science and Technology and moved some of the liberal arts classes to other schools.

  5. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    - they’ve served it well. -

    Have you checked enrollment stats over the last decade?

  6. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:42 am:

    Booting Simmons is shameful. Quinn once again demonstrates his ineptitude.

    Not only is Simmons a good trustee and good democrat - he is also a top notch philanthropist - anyone heard or seen the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU School of Medicine? It’s just a few blocks from the Capitol. Always good to go after a guy committed to finding a cure for cancer. . .

    Gov Goofy gotta go!

  7. - reformer - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    Quinn is cloutless.

  8. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    Just when you think Quinn’s stock couldn’t possibly go any lower…

    I can’t remember when any governor had such a low standing with both the legislature and the public at the same time.

  9. - Mason born - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:54 am:


    The scary part is he thinks he is a shoo-in for reelection!!! Man needs a shrink.

  10. - walkinfool - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:59 am:

    Of all people trying to set the management and goals for a university, I cannot think of worse than the legislature. Bad as it is, I’d let the executive have some more leeway here.

    Just sayin.

  11. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 9:59 am:

    “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” (credited to many)

    Geez, another university board? How much overlap and redundancy do we need in the public system?

    Wouldn’t a statewide governing system like California or Wisconsin make sense? Come up with a statewide plan to allocate stressed resources?

  12. - Fire Anita Alvarez - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:04 am:

    Why is Ed Hightower feared? Is it because he’s a mediocre (at best) Big 10 men’s basketball official?

  13. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    - How much overlap and redundancy do we need in the public system? -

    Look at K-12, you would have thought the world was going to end when it was proposed to eliminate regional superintendents or merge some districts.

  14. - Liberty First - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    Wordslinger - BHE dictates to the universities. The boards rubber stamp administrator and BHE decisions.

  15. - EW - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    Poshard’s comments confirm what we’ve feared here on the Carbondale campus for awhile: that SIUE is getting priority over SIUC these days. Things aren’t good here in Carbondale with budget cuts due to decreases in enrollment, increased violence, and a lack of trust of the administration after the strike. There needs to be a change.

  16. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    look for an amendment to Jaybird’s bill to make SIU-E a branch of Lewis & Clark College…might have a chilling effect….Even Continued PQ blunders don’t warrant this change

  17. - the Patriot - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    Quinn is a genius. Madigan said check mate, and Quinn said King Me. The legislature just said we control a declining instution. Now Quinn can wash his hands and blame all SIU problems on Madigan and the Legislature.

    I find it ironic everyone says Quinn has to go just like they did 4 years ago. But 50% of us voted for him and if lisa does not run, he wíll win again. No inellegent democrat will run knowing the mess we are in and that the Speaker is really running things. more than 50% of this state will not vote for a republican. Long live the Quinn!

  18. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    - blame all SIU problems on Madigan -

    You do know which legislative body Madigan presides over, right?

    Hint: It’s the one that isn’t in the title of this post.

  19. - horseracer - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    Quinn won yesterday. Herrin was unanimously elected interim chairman by the 5 members at yesterday’s board meeting - after the senate rejected 3 perfectly qualified people without a hearing.

  20. - Mason born - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    –Quinn is a genius.–

    You are surely the first person to ever make that claim. Unfortunately you may be right about him getting another 4. But then again he won by just under 20k so it isn’t a lot of margin he has to lose.

  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    ===No inellegent democrat will run knowing the mess we are in and that the Speaker is really running things.===

    I think it was Cullerton’s Senate that all voted “Present”

    Just saying.

  22. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 11:42 am:

    - Herrin and Poshard allegedly had a heated shouting match in front of the media in which four letter words were used -

    Does the board have a function to balance the university president’s power? Poshard really needs to stop whining, if we’re to have a board, it shouldn’t be a rubber stamp for his agenda.

  23. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    Quinn’s bonehead moves increase the likelihood of him being primaried, no?

  24. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    Cinci - You think maybe people are starting to understand that Quinn isn’t afraid of a fight? People in power like pushovers, Quinn certainly isn’t one.

  25. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 12:32 pm:


    Ya gotta pick your battles…

  26. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    Cinci - When your boy Dillard wins a statewide election, I might take your advise on which battles to pick.

  27. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 12:38 pm:


  28. - motambe - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 12:47 pm:

    Gee, Governor Quinn, we really wanted to root for you to succeed, especially after the Blago fiasco. But screwing up a university trustee nomination is just beyond the pale. You can’t even govern when it’s simple.
    Roger Herrin - needs to learn that trustees set policy, and don’t meddle in administering those policies. Poshard and his administrators have kept many Herrin-caused problems out of the press for the university’s sake.
    Sen. Clayborne - thank you! you are obviously “on” to one of the Herrin issues.
    Rep. Hoffman - Univ. Of Illinois’ favorite stalking horse. U of I leaders desparately hope for the SIU system to be split, rendering separate campuses less competitive (for state budget dollars) with the land grant university, putting them on the same level as Eastern, Western, Governor’s State, etc.
    Esquire - there are many successful SIU grads who are Chicago natives/residents. It is a state university and Chicagoland should be represented.
    Mason born - good concept with UMR, but the Rolla campus is still part of the UM system.

  29. - John A Logan - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    For a well written article, by a member of the Carbondale City Council, that details the problems at SIUC, click the link.

  30. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    ==BHE dictates to the universities. The boards rubber stamp administrator and BHE decisions. ==

    Wrong. I don’t know what else to say except that. BHE approves programs and sets broad parameters. The unversities govern themselves.

  31. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 2:18 pm:

    ==more than 50% of this state will not vote for a republican==

    I don’t think that’s true. But the Republicans need to run a candidate that can actually win and that isn’t going to happen unless they get control of the right wing nutjobs that infiltrate the primary process. No matter what the ideologues think, their brand of “conservative” can’t win in Illinois. The sooner they recognize that the better off they will be as far as statewide elections go.

  32. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 2:22 pm:

    Correct, Demoralized.
    If the Boards also “rubber stamp administrator..” Mike Hogan might still be Prez of the U of I lol.

  33. - SIUPROF - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    motambe is right
    ” Roger Herrin - needs to learn that trustees set policy, and don’t meddle in administering those policies. Poshard and his administrators have kept many Herrin-caused problems out of the press for the university’s sake”

    Tries to get his friends hired and intrudes upon mid management searches. Even tried to get in the middle of the basketball coach search–had his own candidate.

    He also lowered the minimum amount of a purchase the board must approve–but refuses to meet more than once every two months, so we have to wait for routine purchases.

    The man is a mess

  34. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 3:22 pm:

    Quinn’s political skills are no match for Poshard and the metro east cadre. They basically handed him his hat.

    It’s a shame to have this public fight, though. SIU has enough PR problems already.

    I never thought I would long for the days of Ivan Elliott and Harris Rowe.

  35. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    It’s almost criminal how political influence has undermined the once-great public universities in Illinois. The pols treat them like state agencies and force them to hire their patronage cast-offs, they jam unhelpful requirements (procurement code) down their throats, clout admissions, demand tickets to sporting events, the list goes on.

    I don’t know how the universities function with all the interference and micro-managing that goes on. It sickens me.

    I have no idea who is right in this fight, but the very fact that a retired politician landed the presidency of a major university speaks volumes about the undue influence of state politics on academic matters.

    Board members should, first and foremost, be the buffer between the politicians and the university administration. They shouldn’t be the conduits used by the pols to perpetuate political fiefdoms inside the university.

  36. - Southern Illinois iPhone - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    Don’t forget Molly D’Esposito or AD Van Meter, Dr. Goodwin.

    How impotent is Quinn to get slapped around by Poshard who’s probably near retirement as SIU President as is?

  37. - Southern Illinois iPhone - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    Also, 47th Ward, you’re spot on, 100% right. SIU is not the only public university with political issues. The University of Illinois and Chicago State have also had their problems with political governance.

  38. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 6:04 pm:

    - slapped around by Poshard -

    Slapped around, eh? Who was just made chairman?

  39. - Oh My - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 8:21 pm:

    Quinn certainly showed some guts in selecting three new trustees. He made one big mistake, he should have canned two of them and reappointed Simmons and not a word would have been said. Simmons should have been reappointed. Not appointing the guy with the biggest ego in Illinos (Hightower), who likes to think he is the most important person in the world, would have been acceptabe to all. He is certainly a legend in “his own mind”. Maybe they should just clean house from top to bottom and start over.

  40. - T-Anon - Thursday, Feb 28, 13 @ 10:02 pm:

    Poshard is a tyrant. He couldn’t be Governor, so instead, he trys to rule the univeristy system as king. He needs someone like Herrin to balance the scales. As for the senate’s move… they destroyed the reputations of the three appointees without even given them a fair hearing…and why? they don’t donate? They didn’t kiss the ring? poor taste all around.

  41. - Northern Light - Friday, Mar 1, 13 @ 12:46 am:

    I am a SIU-Carbondale graduate. I loved southern Illinois and the university and worked there for years, obtaining an advanced degree as well. I do NOT appreciate this fine university being slogged through the mud by politicians and wanna-be politicians and demogogues. It is disgusting how political the governance of this and other universities has become. There is no place for this in an academic institution. There is enough politics among faculty who seek tenure, research monies, prestige, etc. Governor and Prsident/Trustees, don’t denigrate my beloved alma mater. SIU students indeed deserve better!

  42. - bianca blasingame - Friday, Mar 1, 13 @ 7:16 am:

    Kudos to Pat Quinn for sending SIU 3 new trustees instead of just reappointing 3 Poshard lap dogs. The 3 new trustees who were rejected without a hearing got screwed badly.

  43. - So. Style - Friday, Mar 1, 13 @ 8:45 am:

    I am a Southern Illinois resident. For years I respected Poshard……however I believe most of us from the South have realized what he is and his true colors are showing. Don’t forget folks it was under his watch that SIU employees entered a Strike for the first time in school history. Also, what about him trying to sneak his grand daughter in on a full ride scholorship until he was busted out by the media. Glenn….you are a DISGRACE. If you truly love SIU and Southern Illinois, do us all a favor and resign…..if you have the stones to do it.

  44. - Southern Illinois iPhone - Friday, Mar 1, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    Small Town Liberal -

    Herrin is only chairman on a technicality and Marquita Wiley isn’t even showing up so there’s officially no quorum for the SIU board to operate. Glenn Poshard still controls day to day operations of the SIU System. Quinn couldn’t remove Poshard.

    I want the whole board cleansed, but face it - Quinn failed at achieving the goal he accomplished, which was to remove Glenn Poshard.

  45. - horseracer - Friday, Mar 1, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    When has Quinn ever said he wanted to remove Poshard? You are repeating a paranoid delusion.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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