SPRINGFIELD — SIU President Glenn Poshard told state lawmakers Thursday he supports legislation designed to block Gov. Pat Quinn from stacking the university’s board of trustees.
In the Capitol for the first time since Quinn tried to remake the board in late February, Poshard said a proposal requiring an equal number of trustees to have ties to the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses would relieve some of the problems facing the institution.
“It is our hope the situation will be corrected in a way that’s equitable to both universities,” Poshard told members of a House budget committee.
His comments came a month after the Senate dumped Quinn’s attempt to strip the board of appointees aligned with Poshard in hopes a new set of trustees would help him in his efforts to reinstall Harrisburg resident Roger Herrin as chairman.
Poshard called the year in which Herrin was chairman “disastrous” and told lawmakers that he ignored Quinn when the governor asked him to convince the other trustees to keep Herrin on as chairman in 2011.
He said the latest dust-up came to a head when he and other trustees ignored threats, intimidation and bullying from the Quinn administration to support Herrin as chairman.
Poshard was praised and Quinn was criticized during the president’s various stops in the Statehouse, where he once served as a member of the General Assembly.
“You’ve definitely done a good job of dealing with those pesky trustees,” said state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago.
State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, called the governor’s actions “unconscionable.”
“We have a governor who’s decided to play politics … because he has an interest in one individual,” Kay said.
For now, the board of trustees is operating with just five members. The three Quinn allies on the board are expected to try and install Herrin as the chairman at a meeting scheduled April 3.
State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said the two sides need to “quit bickering.”
“They’ve got to negotiate. All they are doing is hurting our college,” Forby said.
Despite testifying in a committee hearing room across the Rotunda from the governor’s office in the Capitol, Poshard said he has had no contact with the chief executive or his top aides since the latest controversy began.
“I’d love to have a meeting,” Poshard said. “We’re still in limbo.”
On Wednesday, Quinn showed no signs of budging when he spoke with reporters at the Governor’s Mansion.
“I think the Senate needs to take another look at these excellent appointees,” the Chicago Democrat said.
Poshard did have a private meeting Thursday with Senate Democrats who are backing a plan to remake the board of trustees. That legislation could come up for a vote next month.