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U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise in 2014

U. of I. rejects paying $400,000 bonus to exiting chancellor

SHARE U. of I. rejects paying $400,000 bonus to exiting chancellor
SHARE U. of I. rejects paying $400,000 bonus to exiting chancellor

The University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees voted Wednesday against paying its chancellor, who is departing under a cloud, a hefty bonus.

The board met to discuss a proposed resignation agreement that would have paid chancellor Phyllis Wise a $400,000 bonus.

All three members of the board’s executive committee — Chairman Edward McMillan and trustees James Montgomery and Karen Hasara — voted against the resignation agreement.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen told the board Wise is being assigned “new duties,” and that the board intends to begin dismissal proceedings against her. Letters were being sent to Wise “immediately,” he said.

Killeen also announced the appointment of Barbara J. Wilson as interim chancellor for the Urbana-Champaign campus. Wilson is currently the dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and will remain in that role.

McMillan, who was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner for a second six-year term in January, told the board the university is going through a “challenging time.”

“It’s a difficult time for individuals. It’s a difficult time for the university, but it’s a time for the university to move forward and move forward in a positive manner,” McMillan said after the vote.

Rauner has also appointed Jill Smart and Ramon Cepeda as U of I trustees, although the Senate has not yet confirmed the governor’s appointments.

“The Senate and staff have been monitoring developments and will review them accordingly as we consider the pending trustee appointments to the university board,” John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Rauner’s administration urged the board to reject Wise’s exit bonus. In a letter to the board, Deputy Gov. Trey Childress wrote that the board, in rejecting the bonus, would send a “clear message that the University of Illinois will protect the reputation and mission of the University.”

Wise 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Wise is leaving as the school faces a lawsuit filed by Steven Salaita, a professor whose job offer was rescinded over his anti-Israel Twitter messages.

Last week, the university said several administrators violated school policy by using private emails to hide correspondence from public view. Among the emails were those from Wise. The university released 1,100 emails.

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