Both the DE and the Southern carried stories on the recent shake-up in the Board of Trustees, in which Roger Herrin was voted out as chair by a vote of 5-2 (really 5-3, as Herrin abstained), to be replaced by John Simmons. The DE also has a video of Herrin's brief statement at the outset of the meeting, and the vote itself. The same 5-3 margins led to re-election of Ed Hightower as Vice-Chairman and selection of Mark Henrichs as Secretary; the three offices form the Executive Committee of the board. Herrin and trustee Donna Manering turned down appointments for lesser posts on the board; Herrin at any rate made it clear that he did so because he regarded the downgrade as one to a menial position.
Herrin explicitly said that he believed that there were times when saying less meant saying more, and hence did not say very much about the reasons for his ouster. But the very fact of multiple, public contested elections on a seven person board shows that there is a very deep disagreement here. I did not attend the meeting, nor do I have particularly good sources on the BOT, but this all strikes me as a pretty big deal.
Herrin presented his removal as one orchestrated by the university administration, and cited John Paul Jones in vowing that he and "those trustees I know" would continue the good fight--presumably by continuing their efforts to make the board a more independent voice. Simmons would only say that "we needed a change". Trustee Ed Hightower, who supported the ouster of Herrin and will continue to serve as vice-chair of the Board, was more forthcoming, if not particularly articulate (at least as quoted by the Southern):
“When we get to a point of not being able to understand our role and move away from our becoming impediment in the day-to-day operation of the university system — and I want to be clear as far as our role,” Hightower said. “We’re policy makers. We hire quality individuals to run the day-to-day. When trustees begin to get involved in the day-to-day, it causes problems we should not have to encounter.”Herrin's ouster is presumably payback for his temerity in publicly criticizing the administration's leaving the board out of the loop re the new logo, which was one of the difficult issues he briefly alluded to in his opening remarks at the meeting. With a new executive committee in place, it would appear that this board prefers to be left out of the loop.
As trustee Don Lowery noted, the new executive committee also lacks any representatives from Southern Illinois rather than the metro East area. Presumably the board trusts Poshard, with his Southern Illinois roots, to look after the needs of the Carbondale campus--and as they are delegating more power to him, it doesn't really matter who serves on the executive committee, so long as they don't cause problems.
The selection of Donna Manering, whose extensive educational experience includes serving on both sides of negotiations between K-12 IEA locals and local school districts, and retired federal judge Don Lowery, had led me to hope that the board would be a more serious independent voice. Roger Herrin, for his part, is a M.D. with deep roots in Southern Illinois. Our new BOT chair has the thinnest resume of the current members of the Board, at least judging from the blurb about him on the BOT website, which lists no professional accomplishments, after his law degree, other than service on various university boards. While I'd heard scuttlebutt that Glen Poshard, who certainly has sometimes seemed weary of his duties in recent years, might be on his way out, from this vantage point it certainly looks like he has skillfully re-asserted his control over SIU.