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Rauner admin turns thumbs down on Wise deal

Tuesday, Aug 11, 2015

* A letter from the governor’s office urging the three U of I trustees who will vote on Chancellor Wise’s golden parachute to reject it…

* AP

McMillan did not return a call. Fellow committee member James Montgomery said the letter could be seen as political interference and a threat since the university relies on state funds.

Yes, I suppose it could. It might also be seen as common sense.

* This was a recently negotiated agreement, not a contractual item

U. of I. spokesman Thomas Hardy said Monday that the $400,000 lump-sum payment reflects “a negotiated agreement” between attorneys for the chancellor and the university, and reflects her completion of nearly four years in the job.

* More

Former U. of I. board Chairman Christopher Kennedy, who approved Wise’s initial employment agreement, has said that Wise should not get the bonus payment.

“I wouldn’t give someone $400,000 to leave peaceably if they (did what she did). My belief is that those emails will reveal behavior that should be investigated,” Kennedy told the Tribune. “This is actionable information. You can fire someone for cause for this. When have we started giving money to people who (do this)?”

U. of I. on Friday released about 1,100 pages of emails that show Wise and other campus administrators used their personal email accounts in an attempt to circumvent state public records law, a violation of university policy.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

47 Comments
  1. - walker - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:14 pm:

    You choose to leave and just get $400K? For what exactly?

    Once again, living in an alternate universe!


  2. - Skirmisher - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:21 pm:

    Hope he can find a way to show the trustees the door also.


  3. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:21 pm:

    This letter is from the same guy that lets his school superintendent do an end-around the tier 2 pension?

    And the same guy that created a new position of Sec. of Education and pay her an insane amount of money?

    And the same guy that paid a budget “consultant” $30k a month even though he has a budget director that knows that IL much better than said consultant?

    Come on… we all know that if this was one of Rauner’s people, he’d have no problem with a $500k severance package.


  4. - Tough Guy - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:26 pm:

    Can’t disagree with the letter. However it seems to be a bit of “do as I say, not as I do” in terms of what we have seen with some of the Governor’s new hires.


  5. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:33 pm:

    C’mon, man. If the governor wants to step up — and I think he should — he should do it himself. He has the big chair.

    Trey Childress? Who’s he? He just got here, a numbers-cruncher from Georgia. He doesnt know anyone involved, or have fhe cred to weigh in on this matter. Has he ever even been on campus?

    Tnis is a job for a governor, not staff.

    I’m guessing they sent the letter out under Childress’ signature out of concern that the three might refuse, and the governor didn’t want to risk losing face.


  6. - ash - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    Making outrageous amounts of money and using personal Email to circumvent state records and accountability? Sure she wasn’t on Rauner’s staff?


  7. - Downstate GOP Faithless - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:44 pm:

    I may be mixing messages a bit, and if so I am sorry, but I’ve heard a number of stories from staff where their elected boss would insist they not use state paid cell phones so they could text and email private accounts without violating the law. Isn’t this the same thing?


  8. - illini - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:54 pm:

    “recently negotiated agreement” says it all.

    So who are the current Trustees of my Alma Mater that agreed to this sham?

    And 1100 pages of “private emails”? Everyone involved should be investigated and prosecuted if warranted.


  9. - State worker - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:57 pm:

    Kennedy has a lot of nerve weighing in on this. Her wrongdoing was with his encouragement and support. He guided the university to a number of these misguided decisions. And he approved these rewards for Wise.

    Good riddance to both of them. Let the university start over.


  10. - illini - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:58 pm:

    And there are only 3 trustees - I thought there were 6.

    I’ll check.


  11. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:06 pm:

    I hate to change the subject, but this is exactly why we know better when a politician says they use a private email for convenience. The only reason they use it is to keep secrets.


  12. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:08 pm:

    And how about that, I agree with the Governor on this one!


  13. - illini - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:08 pm:

    Correction to my earlier post, and I did just check. There are 13 Trustees, 11 with votes, 9 appointed by the Governor for rotating 6 year terms, and 3 student trustees. Not certain, how or why the numbers do not add up - even if the Chairman is not counted, why are there only three Trustees that will be considering this issue?


  14. - Rufus - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:27 pm:

    Yes, this agreement does seem to favor university administrators. But a contract is a contract, and the state of Illinois has a great history of breaking contracts, only to be reversed in the courts of law.

    Like it or not, Wise will get the agreed upon amount, because it is a contract, and we are a nation of laws.

    Perhaps what we need is better negotiators.


  15. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:31 pm:

    I’d appreciate this more if the governor was able to take good advice as he’s willing to give it.


  16. - Now What? - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:36 pm:

    Slippery slope, Governor. Appreciate the effort for the populist mouthpiece, but your glass house has a few stones in it.

    Perhaps there are more important things to focus on?


  17. - illini - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:37 pm:

    And I guess another question I have is this - how many of the trustees are actually graduates of the U of I?


  18. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:38 pm:

    The wise men and women that run the U of I are on notice that their wisdom is in severe doubt. If they approve this payout they will betray themselves as only in it for the money.


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:39 pm:

    Man, when I quit my last job, I got my accumulated vacation paid out.

    And I worked there for over 10 years!

    And I didn’t even make a mess of things before I quit!

    This may be the first time I’ve agreed with Brucie. That’s how bad this thing smells.


  20. - Hedley Lamarr - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:40 pm:

    Mama’s don’t let your baby’s grow up to be doctors & lawyers. Let them be Administrators!


  21. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 6:42 pm:

    It was in the contract that if she was caught doing unethical thing such as trying to illegally keep government business out of FOIA range by using her private email and had to resign she’d get a 400k bonus?


  22. - Norseman - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:03 pm:

    Word, my first thoughts as well. But what do you expect from someone who’s not that engaged in governing.


  23. - 1776 - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:10 pm:

    Tee up the Chris Kennedy for Governor campaign. Ironic that he’s incredulous when he negotiated a $500,000 bonus just for staying five years. I certainly don’t get extra money for staying & doing my job.


  24. - John Bambenek - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:11 pm:

    Its not just the $400,000 payout. Its also the $300,000 annual salary to “return” to the faculty (for being fired) and will likely teach a half-load to boot. Our faculty is starting to bloat up with failed administrators still on the payroll as faculty.


  25. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:16 pm:

    Maybe MS. Wise should contact hillary for advice.


  26. - Emanuel Can't - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:17 pm:

    Some of the most nonsensical musings from Wordslinger in quite some time. Thanks for the laugh, though.


  27. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:30 pm:

    Emanuel, perhaps I don’t appreciate as you do the influence and credibility Childress has built up since moving to Illinois in January. It must be treyriffic.


  28. - Kathryn - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:35 pm:

    Rufus it was NOT part of the CONTRACT but a recently negotiated agreement


  29. - Rufus - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 7:51 pm:

    @ Katherine
    “recently negotiated agreement” when signed by both parties is, in fact, a contract.
    Like it or not, fair or not fair, Wise’s lawyer will win.
    P.S. I am not in favor of this, just grudgenly respect our nation’s rule of law.


  30. - Federalist - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 8:07 pm:

    For once I hope Rauner’s advice is taken.


  31. - Oneman - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 8:13 pm:

    Guessing the board would have to approve it because of the amount


  32. - Jay R - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 8:14 pm:

    John Bambenek - I have an op ed on that exact subject which the Trib may run on Thursday. Stay tuned.


  33. - Michael Westen - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 8:21 pm:

    Wise is not one of the Governor’s “superstars” so she is not entitled to ridiculous overpayment.


  34. - Bystander - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 9:14 pm:

    Trib coverage of contract vs. not a contract has
    been ambiguous a couple of times, but it sounds like
    the $500K (or the pro-rated $400K) was to be awarded, pending approval of the Board of Trustees.


  35. - Slider - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 9:26 pm:

    Beyond the obvious, what a poorly written letter!
    “…and against the best interest of the Urbana-Champaign campus, the University of Illinois network or the State of Illinois.”

    network??…try system!
    or??…try and! [or, do you just not know enough about IL/UIUC (and the “network” to care?!]


  36. - Soccertease - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 9:44 pm:

    Rich nailed it earlier that the state’s universities are out of control. They want the state’s appropriated money, but don’t want to follow other guidelines. Academia is in a different universe I know. But, C’mon man, this is insolvent Illinois.


  37. - Columbo - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 10:00 pm:

    Kennedy telling us what he would have done, now that’s rich. Isn’t Kennedy the one that brokered the deal with former Sen. Chris Dodd to bring us former U of I prez Hogan from Connecticut. Connecticut was looking to unload him at the time. And yes, add him to the list of tenured faculty hanging out and playing the home game with our dough.


  38. - Pius - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 10:06 pm:

    The BOT vote is worth watching. They are apparently voting on a negotiated payout to Wise that is subject to their approval. Rauner wants them to vote no. Wise withheld Steven Salaita’s professorial offer that was negotiated and agreed on, but subject to BOT approval. Interesting parallel lines.


  39. - XDNR - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 10:15 pm:

    Soccertease agreed, Rich did nail it, now in lieu of a letter he should introduce legislation to mitigate this, it’s called governing which we are all waiting for!


  40. - Lynn S, - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 10:41 pm:

    Illini–per Rich, this is a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees. They are authorized by their fellow trustees to take action.

    And for everyone posting here: this is NOT a “recently negotiated agreement”. It is in the contract Ms. Wise was hired under, that she would get a $100K/year retention bonus for every year she stayed at U of I. She stayed 4 years, she get $400K.

    Whether she deserves the money, especially in light of her “sanctionable conduct” with these e-mails, is another story.


  41. - Not it - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 11:01 pm:

    Lynn- the payment is subject to Board approval. I find it interesting that you’re supporting someone who knowingly broke state law. As an administrator for a university she should have known better. I’m glad she is going to be shown the door without an exorbitant payout equal to what most of our citizens earn over the course of a decade or more.


  42. - east central - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 11:20 pm:

    She became Chancellor October 1, 2011, according to reports from the time.

    Therefore she will not have served 4 full years at the time her resignation becomes effect on August 12, 2015.

    If her contract stipulates $100K per full year of service, then it seems she was able to negotiate for the 4th year payment without having served the entire 4th year. How to interpret this depends upon the precise wording of her contract, of course.


  43. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 11:46 pm:

    400K = taxpayer theft..


  44. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Aug 12, 15 @ 1:01 am:

    Lynn, wrong. The original contract provided for the $500k after 5 full years, no.proration. The ” negotiated agreement” creates a proration out of thin air.


  45. - Forest City - Wednesday, Aug 12, 15 @ 1:38 am:

    I promise to leave. Where do I pick up my 400k
    check?


  46. - Lynn S, - Wednesday, Aug 12, 15 @ 2:35 am:

    @Not It–Nope, I don’t support Phyllis. She should have left the U of I a long time ago (actually, she should have been fired last summer when the Salaita issue started up), but I’m not in university administration or on the Board of Trustees, so I didn’t get to call it.

    I’m also not wild about her getting paid to go away, but I’ll swallow hard and accept the payout if it means she takes her sabbatical and retires before the 2016-17 school year. She’s going to cost the U of I a lot more than this when all the lawsuits are settled.

    The real question, that no newspaper person has yet pursued, is: what happens to her “partner” and his $200K/year position?


  47. - Barry - Wednesday, Aug 12, 15 @ 10:47 am:

    walker - Tuesday, Aug 11, 15 @ 5:14 pm:

    “You choose to leave and just get $400K? For what exactly?”

    Keeping her mouth shut about the actions of the Board and of major donors. It’s clearly the case that the big donors and the Board and other higher-ups in the U quite deliberately fired Salaita for purely political reasons.

    Since the U is a state institution, bound by the First Amendment, that gives Salaita a second cause of action.

    Also, these big donors don’t want any light shown on the orders that they give.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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