University Of Illinois President Quits Over Scandal B. Joseph White resigned Wednesday after officials acknowledged that they admitted some students with political clout over other, more qualified applicants. White, who has served as university president since 2005, said he will step down at the end of the year.
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University Of Illinois President Quits Over Scandal

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University Of Illinois President Quits Over Scandal

University Of Illinois President Quits Over Scandal

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The president of the University of Illinois has resigned over an admissions scandal. This summer, university officials acknowledged that they had accepted some students with political clout over other, more qualified applicants. The governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has already replaced most of the university's trustees.

NPR's David Schaper has the latest.

DAVID SCHAPER: For the last several years, the University of Illinois kept a so-called clout list of student applicants to its flagship Urbana-Champaign campus. These applicants had some heavy-hitter — a politician, donor or alumnus — advocating on their behalf. And admissions staffers say they were often pressured to admit students on the clout list, even when their grades and test scores didn't measure up. A state investigative panel recommended University of Illinois' trustees resign, and all but two did. Pressure has been mounting on University President Joseph White and the school's chancellor to resign, too. White announced today he will step down at the end of the year. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Governor PAT QUINN (Democrat, Illinois): President White is doing what's best for the university and, I think, the people of Illinois are grateful to him. I talked to him the other day. He told me what he planned to do, and I commend him for taking steps necessary to move the university forward.

SCHAPER: White, who has served as university president since 2005, submitted his resignation letter to university board chairman Chris Kennedy this afternoon. Governor Quinn says he did not ask White to resign. And the governor adds that this leading public institution is doing what's necessary to put the admissions scandal behind it.

Gov. QUINN: Everything is an open process. We've completely reformed the admissions process at the University of Illinois, eliminated any abuse. And I think it's - the university is going forward, and that's what we want to do.

SCHAPER: On the sprawling Urbana-Champaign campus, many of the U of I's more than 40,000 students also seemed eager to put the scandal behind them. Kurt Bulicek(ph) says White is doing the right thing by resigning.

Mr. KURT BULICEK (Student, University of Illinois): I mean, he's either A, incompetent because he's unaware of what's going on or B, he's involved with it-slash-aware of it, and he lets it go on. So either way, he should probably go, in my opinion.

SCHAPER: But freshman Gloria Frank(ph) is still bothered that some of her classmates might not deserve to be there.

Ms. GLORIA FRANK (Student, University of Illinois): We all, who are here, who didn't get that opportunity to have a political person behind us, we fought to get here.

SCHAPER: Scott Jaschik, editor of the online publication Insider Higher Ed, says admissions staffers at other public universities also occasionally face pressure to admit connected students.

Mr. SCOTT JASCHIK (Editor, Inside Higher Ed): But the extent of it at Illinois, the way people who were clearly unqualified were getting in, in some cases, most people seem to think this was at a whole new level of admissions misconduct.

SCHAPER: Still, Jaschik says he doesn't expect the scandal to do lasting damage to the University of Illinois's reputation.

David Schaper, NPR New, Chicago.

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