Board member Eppley resigns, asks colleagues to follow suit
July 29, 2009
University Board of Trustee member Lawrence Eppley resigned Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn, after Judge Abner Mikva, chairman of the Admissions Review Commission, called for the entire board to step down. Eppley’s letter stated that he will resign 90 days from the date of the letter, or as soon as his successor is elected. Eppley also called upon his fellow board members to resign, though he added that they should be allowed to seek reappointment.
“You should be given the opportunity to appoint a new leadership team,” Eppley told Quinn. “I believe that the best interest of the University will be served if the current members of the board step aside in order to help the University begin to move forward unencumbered by these recent events.”
Eppley also stated in the letter that he will cooperate fully in the transition period, and that he believes he is putting the good of the University before his own interests.
The governor issued the following statement in a press release:
“I appreciate the letter from Trustee Lawrence C. Eppley. I accept his resignation. I thank him for his years of service and wish him well. The search for his successor will begin immediately.”
University spokesperson Tom Hardy echoed Quinn’s gratitude.
“His letter speaks to Larry’s loyalty and concern for the welfare of the University of Illinois,” Hardy said.
Hardy said that he was unaware of other forthcoming resignations by the rest of the Board of Trustees.
Student Trustee Matt Reschke said he hoped other Trustees would follow suit and expressed admiration for Eppley’s action.
“It’s honorable of him to finally do it, before anybody else,” Reschke said. “He was able to admit his own faults and cut his losses.”
Reschke said he had anticipated Eppley’s resignation.
“He called in for our retreat, he called in for our board meeting, I kind of suspected that his time was up,” Reschke said, adding that Eppley was not necessarily the first board member he had expected to resign.
“It’s a sign of good things to come,” he said.
Former Student Trustee Paul Schmitt said that Eppley did the right thing because he was drawing negative attention to the University. While Schmitt said he does not believe all board members need to resign, he thinks others should follow Eppley’s example.
“I have no ill will towards any of my former colleagues,” Schmitt said. “I think certainly there’s about four others that need to step down.”
Many figures associated with the University and Illinois legislature have called for the resignation of the Board of Trustees in the wake of the admissions scandal at the University’s flagship campus. At a testimony on Monday, former University President James J. Stukel listed Eppley as one of the three Trustees he had in mind to be removed from the Board.
“There’s been a lot of bad apples in the bunch,” Schmitt said. “They capitulated with whatever political wills the people over them wanted.”
Schmitt also cited Eppley as an example of the corruption in the board, referring to documents that implicated Eppley as a “courier for the Governor’s nepotism.”
These documents included e-mails indicating that Eppley had advocated the admission of individual students.
Former Presidents Stukel and Ikenberry, and President B. Joseph White, stated that board members should be removed from the admissions process at an admissions hearing at the Beckman Institute on Monday.
“They should be walled off and let the admissions people do their job like President Ikenberry said yesterday,” said Charles Scholz, member of the Admissions Review Commission.
“I respect Trustee Eppley for making the decision he did because I think it moves us forward. We are making progress towards our goal,” he added.
The Commission will hold its tenth public meeting on Wednesday, where Senator Chris Lauzen is scheduled to testify. The Commission will make its recommendations by the deadline, Aug. 8.
“I think the University has been very forthcoming,” Scholz said. “We share the same goal.”