Senate confirms trustee candidate

By Erin Calandriello

David V. Dorris was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in March and was confirmed by the Illinois Senate on April 21 as the newest trustee for the University of Illinois Board of Trustees (BOT).

Tom Hardy, University spokesman, said Dorris has already sat in on a BOT Conference call, and he will be attending his first meeting on May 19 in Chicago.

Rebecca Rausch, press secretary for Blagojevich, said Dorris is extremely well qualified for his position.

“Mr. Dorris has tremendous and extensive commitment to the University,” Rausch said. “There’s no doubt how David feels for his alma mater. You look at his resume, and there’s no doubt that he will make an exceptional member for this board.”

Dorris, a 1973 University College of Law graduate, said he is a qualified candidate due to his background and support of the University.

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Currently an attorney in Bloomington, Ill., Dorris also had 30 years of professional experience of being involved with executive boards such as the Board of Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He also was the editor of the Illinois State Bar Journal.

Dorris has supported and donated to the University and has attended 95 consecutive Illini basketball games. His daughter graduated from the University in 2000, and his son is a junior at the University.

Hardy agreed that Dorris is the man for job.

“He’s a distinguished professional, and an alumnus who has strong commitment to serving the University and public,” Hardy said. “He’ll be a very solid trustee.”

Dorris’ appointment has been questioned due to his large contributions of more than $83,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign, according to articles in the Sun-Times, AP and Senator Bill Brady (R-Ill.).

“Dorris’ appointment to the BOT was absolutely influenced by his contributions to Gov. Blagojevich’s campaign,” Brady said. “It’s an issue. If you contribute to the Governor, you’ll get a position or a contract from the Governor. If you don’t make contributions, you don’t get anything.”

However, Brady said he felt that David would still be an effective member on the board.

“David wants to do what’s best for the University,” Brady said. “Yet, I think there were a lot of people who were qualified for the job.”

Dorris and Blagojevich’s office did not agree with Senator Brady’s speculations of why Mr. Dorris was appointed as a trustee.

“I can’t say for sure, you’d have to talk to Gov. Blagojevich,” Dorris said. “But I can tell you this – Rod Blagojevich and I have never discussed money. It’s never happened. I support a lot of democratic candidates. I donate to lot of people. I’ve donated more money to the University than to Rod. It was my choice to support him long before I was seeking appointment to the BOT.”

Rausch also defended Dorris’ appointment.

“Mr. Dorris’ contributions to Gov. Blagojevich’s campaign had nothing to do with his appointment to the BOT,” Rausch said. “He’s an easy person to defend. It was an easy call because his commitment to the University is unmatched.”

Brady said Dorris’ decisions on the BOT would not be impacted by Blagojevich’s interests, despite the fact that he donated a large sum to Blagojevich’s campaign.

“The Governor doesn’t care about the BOT,” Brady said. “He’s not involved in the University. David Dorris has allegiance to the University, and he won’t compromise anything because his interests won’t come in conflict with those of Gov. Blagojevich.”

Brady said that the University is not one of Blagojevich’s top priorities, and thus, Dorris would not have to compromise anything.

Hardy also agreed that Dorris would put the University’s needs first.

“I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t put the University and students first and foremost,” Hardy said. “The University has been around for 140 years and it’ll be here for another 140 years. All of those who serve the BOT have the responsibility to lead the University to continued greatness, and I’m sure David Dorris will be no exception.”

Dorris said he plans on being an integral part of the BOT and doing an excellent job, and that he hopes to do a good job without making people upset about his decision. Yet, he said he wishes the Chief debate would end.

“I want them to leave us alone,” Dorris said. “You can’t win on the Chief debate. Here’s my perspective on it. If the Chief’s gone tomorrow, will you feel any different about the University? No. It’s not the most important issue at the University.”