UI Board of Trustees Chairman Niranjan Shah announced his resignation from the board on Aug. 3, becoming the second trustee to resign from the board in the midst of a state investigation into admissions practices at Illinois. Shah's resignation came less than a week after trustee and former chair Lawrence Eppley submitted his letter of resignation to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and called upon the eight other trustees to do the same.
The Illinois Admissions Review Commission, a seven-member commission chaired by former federal judge Abner Mikva that is expected to submit its final report Aug. 6, preliminarily recommended on July 31 that Quinn call upon all the UI trustees to resign and then decide which of them to retain. Over two months, the commission heard testimony from dozens of witnesses and reviewed thousands of pages of documents about Illinois and alleged instances of applicants who were admitted during the past five years because of special-interest connections.
The applicants were part of the so-called Category I list, an internal log of applicants flagged for review after trustees, lawmakers or others with connections to Illinois inquired about them or expressed interest in seeing them admitted.
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Shah wrote in his resignation letter to Quinn that he had "strongly supported" the investigation into admissions practices but had decided to resign because of public statements by Mikva and other members of the commission that indicated they believed all the trustees should go and Quinn should replace some or all of them.
"I am not in public service for self-aggrandizement and therefore have no interest in a protracted process regarding my role," Shah wrote. "My interest is solely in the vitality of the UI. I hope those who will serve the UI in the future, and who have executive and legislative authority over the university, share that goal and will use their power and influence to achieve that end."
In their resignation letters, Shah and Eppley said that they would continue to serve on the board for 90 days or until successors were appointed.
Quinn accepted both Shah's and Eppley's resignations, thanked them for their years of service and said a search for successors would begin immediately.
Shah, who was appointed to the board in 2003, was elected chairman in January, succeeding Eppley, who was appointed to the board 2001 and served as chairman from 2003 until January 2009.
In addition to Shah, who is a resident of Oak Brook, and Eppley, who resides in Palatine, the remaining trustees are Devon C. Bruce, Chicago; Frances G. Carroll, Chicago; David V. Dorris, LeRoy; Edward McMillan, Greenville; James D. Montgomery, Chicago; Kenneth D. Schmidt, Riverwoods; and Robert Vickrey, Peru.
The governor, who is an ex-officio member of the UI Board of Trustees, appoints nine trustees to serve staggered six-year terms. Three student trustees are elected by student referenda to represent each of the three campuses for one-year terms. All the trustees serve on a voluntary, unpaid basis.