Senator Wants Redo of SIU Board
By Candice Freeland
CARBONDALE, IL - For a month or so, it seemed as though tension among the members of the Board of Trustees at SIU had settled, and the members were working well together. Illinois State Senator Bill Haine says Alton attorney John Simmons was working well in his position as board chairman. Haine says Simmons "knew what he was doing, and had given time and treasure to the school." But Haine believes that, because Simmons and fellow board members Mark Hinrichs and Edward Hightower did not vote to reinstate former chairman Roger Herrin to his old post when the time came in late February, they were "summarily removed" by Governor Quinn when their terms were up.
The Governor then recommended three people for those positions, and the state senate promptly said no thanks, unanimously voting down each of the nominees.
So appalled was Haine that, on Thursday, he suggested to his fellow senators that legislation should be passed calling for nearly all members of the SIU Board of Trustees to be replaced. If Haine has his way, only David Hamilton and Marquita Wiley would be spared.
Hamilton is a student at SIU, while Marquita Wiley is a well-respected member of the community. Haine said it was because these two walked out of a meeting on Wednesday that Roger Herrin was unable to be reinstated as board chairman. At that point, too many board members were absent.
Haine said, "We were negotiating with the Governor's office to rectify the situation. Our positon was that Herrin was chair two years ago as a brand new appointee, which is extraordinary in itself...But Roger Herrin takes it upon himself before the talks with the governor are concluded...he decides with a rump group to place himself back in the position of chair, which in my opinion in intolerable..."
Haine called the move an insult to the school, the Senate, and Governor Quinn.
Haine says that Roger Herrin, a Harrisburg physician, has alienated board members over a number of months, and that Simmons, Hinrichs, and Hightower had "served with distinction" and were "committed to both SIU in Carbondale and SIU in Edwardsville."
When asked to identify specific issues between Governor Quinn and the board members that ultimately led to the dismissal of three of them, Haine said he doesn't know, but it apparently "has something to do with Roger Herrin." Haine believes that starting over with a new Board of Trustees is the best solution for addressing the issues currently facing the school, including stagnant enrollment.
"The only way to accomplish that is to pass my bill as I originally filed it to terminate all terms on the board and reset it. We would want Mrs.Wiley back and David Hamilton, who showed such great integrity. But the rest of these guys gotta go."
Dr. Roger Herrin has not been available for comment up to this point. West Kentucky Star will continue to attempt to contact Dr. Herrin.