SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois senator who led the charge to dump three of Gov. Pat Quinn’s nominees for the Southern Illinois University board of trustees now wants to change who can sit on the university’s governing board.
State Sen. William Haine, an Alton Democrat, has introduced legislation that would reconstitute a board that has become a lightning rod in the oversight of the geographically diverse institution.
Under his plan, three board members must be graduates of SIU’s main campus in Carbondale, while the three others must hold degrees from the Edwardsville campus, which Haine represents. The proposal also includes provisions to have each campus to pick one student member, who would have voting powers.
Currently, a governor does not have to abide by any guidelines regarding where a prospective trustee attended college.
“This would allow the governor to do a reset on this whole situation and return to an era of collaboration with members of the Senate and the House from both parties,” Haine said Friday.
State Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, said he plans to file an amendment to the proposal that would require a governor to appoint someone with ties to the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.
“I think one of the problems with the appointments that the governor made earlier this week and why they were soundly defeated by the Senate was because the geographic balance was lacking,” Manar said Friday. “It’s important because we’ve seen the growth in the medical industry in Sangamon County and regionally.”
The moves came just days after the Democrat-controlled Senate reacted harshly to Quinn’s attempt to remake the board by replacing trustees John Simmons of East Alton, Mark Hinrichs of O’Fallon and Ed Hightower of Edwardsville, who had led a coup in 2011 to oust Quinn’s pick for board chairman, Roger Herrin of Harrisburg.
Acting in its capacity to confirm gubernatorial appointees, the Senate voted 23-0 in opposition to Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Melvin Terrell of Chicago and Lee Milner of Springfield. Thirty-two senators voted “present.”
Haine’s proposal was introduced just a day after state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, introduced legislation that would split the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses, creating separate governing boards for both. It also would put the SIU School of Medicine under the control of the Edwardsville campus.
That proposal is not new. Hoffman pushed legislation to split the SIU system in 2003, and former state Rep. Thomas Holbrook, D-Belleville, pushed such legislation in 2005.
Haine said Quinn’s bid to remake the SIU board has created a “poisonous” atmosphere.
“It’s caused needless controversy,” he said.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Haine’s legislation is Senate Bill 2406.
Kurt Erickson can be reached at email@example.com or 217-782-4043