University of Illinois trustee Lawrence Eppley resigns

Eppley's letter of resignation from University of Illinois' board Dear Governor Quinn: For the last eight years I have had the honor and privilege to serve as a trustee of the University of Illinois, including time as Chairman of the Board.

During my tenure the university has achieved a great deal and has continued its growth as a world-class institution of higher learning. I believe deeply in the mission of the University and its ability to transform lives.

We are currently experiencing a trying moment for the leadership of this University. The criticism that has ensued has led to confusion and consternation within the U of I community. It is important for those of us entrusted with the governance of this institution to help facilitate a resolution.

While I cannot speak on behalf of my fellow trustees, I can speak to the importance of our duty as a member of the board. As the ultimate body of governance and leadership of this University, the trustees must help maintain the confidence of our shareholders, who in this case are the people of Illinois. Just as in the corporate world, shareholders’ lack of confidence in an organization justifies effecting changes.

While the members of the board have dedicated themselves to the mission of the University, it is clear to me that we must now do our part to help the University get past this situation. It is our fundamental obligation to begin the process that will put this episode behind us and allow the University to reestablish its focus and achieve even greater success in the future.

The public’s confidence in the University must be restored, and one way to begin to restore that confidence is to make a clean start. You should be given the opportunity to appoint a new leadership team. It is for that reason that I believe that the best interests of the University will be served if the current members of the board step aside (and seek reappointment by you if they so choose) in order to help the University begin to move forward unencumbered by these recent events.

To that end, it is with a deep sense of loyalty to and devotion for the University that I offer to be the first to step down as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, effective 90 days from the date of this letter or as soon as a successor is appointed. I commit to you and the University my assistance during the transition period and thereafter.

While the trustees are, in the end, responsible for the overall governance of the University, it is also important that the public has confidence and trust in the campus administrators who bear responsibility for the day-to-day decisions that have impacted the U of I in these circumstances. It is my hope that these administrators will also put the University first and assume responsibility for their roles in this matter.

Whatever transition period you decide, it is important that we have time to complete or hand off the important pending duties of the board, including the completion of our annual budget and resource planning. A transition period will also allow you to evaluate prospective trustee candidates, including any of the current trustees who wish to apply for reappointment. And, just as importantly, it will allow the Mikva Commission to complete its work and issue its report to you.

This decision is the result of a thoughtful and considered examination of the difficult situation before us. At the end of the day, this is not about individual trustees or administrators. It is, and must be, about how to help the University best fulfill its mission. As I have during my entire tenure on the board, I must put the best interests of the institution before my own.
I will always be an advocate for the University of Illinois.

Lawrence C. Eppley

University Board of Trustee Member Lawrence Eppley resigned Tuesday, following a call from Judge Abner Mikva for the entire Board to resign.

Student Trustee Matt Reschke said he had anticipated Eppley’s resignation.

One of the key figures in the uproar over the role of political influence at the University of Illinois is resigning. University trustee Lawrence Eppley said Tuesday in a letter to Governor Pat Quinn that he will step down from the board that oversees the school’s three campuses.

In a statement, Governor Quinn says he accepts Eppley’s resignation, and thanks him for his years of service. He says a search for his successor will begin immediately. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the resignation letter, and reports that Eppley writes that fellow trustees should step down as well. He also calls on unnamed school administrators to accept their share of responsibility for the admissions uproar.