Independent group to investigate admissions, University suspends internal investigation

The Admissions and Records Building is at 901 W Illinois St in Urbana. Chicago Tribune reporting recently revealed that politicians pressured University officials to admit under-qualified students.

By James VandeBerg

Governor Pat Quinn announced the appointment of a seven-member independent panel to investigate University admissions practices Wednesday morning at the University of Illinois Chicago campus.

“Admission to this great university should be based on merit, never on clout,” said Governor Quinn in a statement provided to The Daily Illini. “This Commission is charged with investigating claims of such special treatment and making sure any and all problems are rooted out and corrected.”

The announcement comes after calls for the resignation of University administrators and trustees by some, including State Rep. Mike Boland (D-East Moline), chairman of the state House Higher Education Committee.

“We need to remove those at the very top; the trustees and officials involved and culpable in this,” Boland said. “I’m very happy that President White agreed with me that there should be an investigation.”

“The great reputation of U of I has been tarnished by this,” he added.

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The University previously announced plans to conduct its own internal investigation into the charges of a special “clout list”, but in effort to fully cooperate with Governor Quinn’s independent Commission, the University has suspended its investigation.

“We will be working with the Commission to help conduct the investigation,” said Tom Hardy, University spokesman.

Requests and directives from the Commission will be treated as the “highest priority” and the Commission will have access to every person and resource it needs to conduct its search, said President B. Joseph White in a University-wide statement.

White also said in the statement that each campus, academic unit and admissions office should prepare for the upcoming admissions cycle for the 2010-’11 academic year and focus on objectivity and fairness in the admissions process.

The investigation is expected to be completed within 60 days and will be chaired by retired federal Judge Abner Mikva.

Keep checking for further updates.

Kate Szyszka and Bridget Mulcahy contributed to this report.