Gov. Pat Quinn needs to take a tip from Bloomington Mayor-elect Tari Renner: Government should be open and people deserve to be heard.
Neither was addressed last week when Quinn decided against reappointing Illinois State University trustees Bob Dobski and Joanne Maitland. Instead, Quinn opted to let both appointments expire, and then appointed insurance broker Robert Churney of Bartlett to take Dobski’s spot. Quinn has not named a successor for Maitland, the board’s longest-serving member.
Churney, a Streator native who graduated from ISU, applied for a board seat last year. We don’t take issue with his appointment; indeed, we’re glad he expressed an interest in the unpaid post.
Instead, we take issue with Quinn, who earlier this year pulled a similar ploy with three members of the Southern Illinois University board in a bid to move a favorite into the board chairman’s seat.
But back to ISU.
Members of university boards — like boards that govern nonprofit groups or Fortune 500 companies — benefit from occasional reorganization. New blood brings new ideas and viewpoints, and keeps the institution looking forward rather than standing still or sliding backward.
But to reorganize in the midst of a big decision — a company merger, in the case of ISU, the search for a new president — is the wrong move. Such decisions need to be made by the people who are most knowledgeable about the needs of the institution and the various pros and cons of each move.
Churney wants to “give back,” he told Lee News Service. And ISU chief of staff Jay Groves said Dobski and Maitland both will become community members, rather than board members, involved in the search for a successor to President Al Bowman.
Under Bowman’s tenure, ISU has become one of the state’s go-to universities for students. Relationships have improved between the administration and faculty and the administration and students. Community outreach also has increased.
ISU’s next president needs to be someone who can continue Bowman’s ability to bridge those internal communities, to pick the right people to lead various campaigns, to be the smart and gracious cheerleader-in-chief the job demands — and also lead the campus into the 22nd century.
The people who know Illinois State University best are the ones who should choose the school’s next leader. Those people include Dobski and Maitland.
The trustees’ crucial work does not need to be distracted by Quinn, who appears to listen only to the ticking clock of his term.