Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration on Wednesday sent the University of Illinois a letter expressing its “deep reservations” about a proposed resignation agreement that would pay its exiting chancellor a hefty $400,000 bonus.
Phyllis Wise, chancellor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, announced last week that she would resign on Aug. 12, citing a range of “external issues” that became a distraction for the school.
Wise is leaving as she and the school face a lawsuit filed by Steven Salaita, a professor whose job offer she rescinded over his anti-Israel Twitter messages.
“We request that you and the members of the executive committee of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees do not approve the proposed agreement with Dr. [Phyllis] Wise,” Deputy Governor Trey Childress wrote in the letter.
Childress said rejecting the resignation agreement will send a “clear message that the University of Illinois will protect the reputation and mission of the University,” he wrote.
University spokesman Tom Hardy said the board confirmed it received Childress’ letter.
“The University Board of Trustees office received the letter, distributed it to trustees and it is being respectfully taken under advisement,” Hardy said in a statement.
Last week, the university said several administrators violated school policy by using private emails to hide correspondence from public view, including emails about Salaita.
Among the emails were those from Wise. The university released 1,100 emails, many from Wise’s personal account.
Hardy said last week that Wise’s contract includes a $500,000 retention bonus: $100,000 for each year she stayed. She has been chancellor for four years.