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BOT: WIU President Thomas Announces Decision to Take Administrative Leave; Tables Program Review Recommendations

June 14, 2019

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MACOMB/MOLINE IL -- At today's Western Illinois University Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, WIU President Jack Thomas announced his decision to go on administrative leave, effective July 1, 2019. Following his announcement, the Board unanimously voted to accept the president's request to be placed on administrative leave.

"On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Western Illinois University, I would like to thank Dr. Jack Thomas for his distinguished service to Western Illinois University as president and as provost and academic vice president," said BOT Chair Greg Aguilar. "President Thomas has been dedicated and committed to serving our students. He has mentored countless students and impacted tens of thousands of lives for the good. Again, we wish to thank President Thomas for the leadership he has provided."

The administrative leave agreement includes extending Thomas' current annual base salary of $270,528 through June 30, 2021. Thomas also has the opportunity to serve in a tenured faculty position as a Distinguished Service Professor, effective July 1, 2021.

"It has been a privilege serving as president, provost, and as a member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education during this historic period. Despite the difficulties our state has faced with regards to the budget and loss of population, our University remains resilient," Thomas said. "We are a world-class University, and during my final days as president, I will work to ensure everything is in place for the new leadership to begin the next chapter in Western's history." [See Dr. Thomas' complete letter]

The Board voted that incoming Provost and Academic Vice President Martin Abraham will serve as Western's temporary president until an longer-term interim president is appointed. The Board will discuss next steps in the near future to appoint an interim president.

In other business, the Board voted to remove emergency management from the program elimination list. Emergency management will merge with the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. The Board voted to table the resolution to eliminate seven undergraduate major degree programs so further discussion could be had at the Board's retreat next month. Last year, the University's Academic Program Elimination Review Committee evaluated 18 programs using a number of criteria, including enrollment, credit hours, and degrees conferred. The Office of the Provost and Academic Vice President originally brought eight degree programs forward for consideration.

Trustees approved the University's FY20 preliminary spending plan of $209.1 million. The plan must be prepared prior to July 1 for submission to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois State Legislature and the Governor.

The Board approved the WIU Columbarium, as well as a five-year $1.2 million contract with Digital Convergence Alliance of Tampa FL for a master control and program signal delivery for WQPT's transmitter. The Board also approved positive tenure recommendations for seven faculty: Munia Cabel-Jimenez, foreign languages and literatures; Patricia Eathington, nursing; Kristy Keefe, psychology; Martin Abraham, engineering; Emily Shupe, kinesiology; Courtney Blankenship, music; and Ian Shelly, art.

In addition, the Board elected officers for July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Polly Radosh was elected chair, Nick Padgett was re-elected vice chair and Jackie Thompson was re-elected secretary. Student Trustee Justin Brown was re-elected by the student body to serve as Western's Board of Trustees student representative from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. The full Board can be found at Jackie Thompson was elected to serve on the State Universities Civil Service Merit Board.

The WIU Board of Trustees will hold a retreat July 11-12 in the Quad Cities. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held Oct. 3-4 on the WIU-Macomb campus.

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