Dear Commons Community,
The Illinois University’s Board of Trustees has set the stage for a messy legal battle with Phyllis Wise, chancellor of its Urbana-Champaign campus. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required):
“It has been an ugly few days for the flagship campus of the University of Illinois.
It will almost assuredly get worse.
With its decision on Wednesday to reject the terms of Phyllis M. Wise’s resignation as chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus, the university’s Board of Trustees has set the stage for a messy legal battle that could bring the two parties’ heretofore private disagreements into public view.
Rather than let Ms. Wise resign with a $400,000 retention bonus, to which she would have been entitled under her contract, the board’s executive committee has decided to move forward with proceedings to fire her as chancellor, an action that will compel the trustees to lay out in grim detail all of the reasons they think Ms. Wise is unfit to lead the campus.
Most trustees in similar situations just hold their noses and pay up. But Illinois is different. The board was under political pressure not to pay out the bonus, and misgivings in the state about presidential compensation are particularly acute.
Ms. Wise announced her intention to resign as chancellor last week, just before the university released hundreds of emails that the chancellor and others had sent from private accounts in an apparent effort to subvert public-records laws. The emails concerned some of the most contentious issues to arise during Ms. Wise’s tenure, including her decision to rescind a job offer to a scholar who had made inflammatory statements about Israel on social media.”
This will indeed be an ugly situation!