Illinois Board Rejects $400,000 Deal With Phyllis Wise

August 12, 2015

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees Executive Committee voted Wednesday to reject a deal in which Phyllis Wise would resign as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in return for a payment of $400,000, The Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper also reported that the board would start the process of dismissing Wise.

The move followed a request from Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, that the board reject the deal with Wise.

Wise announced last week that she was leaving her position, effective today, due to “external issues.” At the time the university confirmed that she would receive $400,000, although she would not normally have been entitled under her contract to that payment. The day after her resignation was announced, the university released hundreds of pages of email messages -- many of them from Wise -- that the university said had been improperly withheld by some Illinois officials when responding to public records requests.

Many of these email messages were made on private email accounts, and withholding them violated university policy. The email messages showed how Wise and other senior administrators (and some faculty members) viewed their controversial decision to block the hiring of Steven Salaita, a decision that remains controversial a year after it took place. And the emails show how the Illinois board chair put strong pressure on the administration to do something about James Kilgore, an adjunct who briefly lost his job because of his past involvement with the Symbionese Liberation Army.

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