Chicago State to part ways with president after 9 months on job

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Embattled CSU President Thomas J. Calhoun | School website

Turbulent times at Chicago State University continued into a new semester, as trustees of the financially troubled school this week are expected to vote to cut ties with President Thomas Calhoun nine months after hiring him.

Trustees last October unanimously voted to hire Thomas Calhoun to lead the South Side college. On Friday, board members will vote on a “separation agreement” with Calhoun and appoint his interim replacement, according to the board agenda. Calhoun took over the 4,500-student campus in January, under a contract that ran until 2020.

Board of Trustees President Anthony Young Sr. on Wednesday declined to comment on why Calhoun was leaving CSU or the terms of his departure.

“We have reached an agreement that I think is amenable to all parties,” Young said. “Other than that, I’m not comfortable talking about anything until the board has voted.”

Calhoun, who made $300,000 a year, did not immediately return messages for comment from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Calhoun’s short tenure at CSU included some of the most dire moments in the school’s history, as the state’s budget impasse stalled funding for the school and other state universities. Chicago State, with a student body made up almost entirely of non-traditional, minority students, was hit harder than most state schools: Calhoun declared a state of financial emergency at the school and in April announced the layoff of 300 faculty and staff.

Citing the school’s shaky finances, the state Higher Learning Commission in July announced a two-year review of CSU’s academic accreditation.

Calhoun said in July that an infusion of cash from a stop-gap state budget and the release of tuition grants would shore up the school’s books.

Calhoun was hired away from North Alabama University but had strong connections to Chicago: he had worked in Chicago Public Schools’ Department of Research, Evaluation and Planning, and also had served as principal at North Lawndale College Prep Charter High School and at Hales Franciscan High School.

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