Southern District of Illinois to fund scholarships to SIU law students | Madison – St. Clair Record

CARBONDALE –– The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois will fund law school scholarships in an effort to support the area’s local legal community.

The federal court plans to award more than $18,000 to a law school student attending Southern Illinois University.

All district judges agreed to use funds for a scholarship to the Carbondale-based law school, Judge Staci Yandle told the Record.

The money comes from fees charged to attorneys for temporary admission to the district. The separate, free-standing fund has certain restrictions on its use.

, Judge Staci Yandle  

"We took a look at what we had in this fund, and came up with the idea of funding this scholarship for the only law school in the district," Yandle said.

She explained the judges certainly want lawyers from southern Illinois to stay in the district, which encompasses 38 counties in the state.

"It is good use for it and good for the court to support the legal community, to be impactful," Yandle said. "Any time we can support the law school that is in our district, impact an education, that is a good thing."

The district court has entered into the partnership with the Southern Illinois University Foundation to establish the law school scholarship fund.

Initially, this is a one-time gift of $18,250. The university foundation will act as a custodian for the money, while the dean of the law school, or a committee, will determine the recipients.

While financial need will be one criteria, the recipient must be a current student in the SIU School of Law, Yandle said.

Recipients also must be from the southern district, in the top half of their class, commit to pro bono work and submit an essay on the role of lawyers in society.

It has not yet been decided whether to continue to fund the scholarship beyond the initial amount handed over.

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July 21, 2018 at 08:03AM

Southern District of Illinois to fund scholarships to SIU law students | Madison – St. Clair Record

New rep discusses vision for district, Illinois

SYCAMORE – Jeff Keicher knows virtually everyone at Shawn’s Coffee Shop.

As a local State Farm agent, he’s handled many of their insurance claims. His daughter took a vacation with a patron he greets in the line for the register Friday morning. He waves, greets, chats with everyone, everything short of kissing babies, although he could have done that if he wasn’t concerned about waking a child in a carrier.

Area Republican leaders appointed Keicher as the new representative of the Illinois House’s 70th District, which includes Sycamore, Genoa, most of DeKalb and northern DeKalb County, with a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at Dayton Farms in Sycamore.

There will be little business conducted in Springfield during the time of his appointment. Republican party officials no doubt hope that appointing Keicher now will give him a leg up when he faces Democratic challenger Paul Stoddard, a DeKalb County Board member, in the general election Nov. 6.

Keicher, 45, has worked with State Farm for more than 20 years, the past dozen at his office at 315 W. Elm St. in Sycamore. He said relationships he’s built there, and tough conversations, have helped make him the right man to represent the district.

“I’ve had to break hard news to people,” he said. “You’re sitting side-by-side with a mom and a dad who just lost their child under horrific circumstances. A lot of what I’ve done day-to-day in my career has prepared me for communications with constituents.”

Beyond that, he said he’s spent substantial time in Springfield vying for clients and their rights. He plans to decline health care and pension benefits for the position.

Keicher’s background

Desnee Kramer waited tables for years, providing for her three children, and later became a mortgage lender.

Her sacrifice and dedication inspired her son, Jeff Keicher, who also took a cue from her sister, Dawn Soderquist, who ultimately became a legislative assistant in Hawaii.

He said both of their influences instilled a sense of honesty, accountability and servitude.

“ ‘Trust’ is the word I’d emphasize,” he said.

Keicher said he once wanted to be a pastor, but during a trip to Russia in the early ’90s, he felt other religious organizations were banging the drum too loudly.

“The last thing you need to do is to tell people who have lived through Communism how to worship,” he said.

So he shifted gears.

He said Monetary Assistance Program funds made it possible for him to attend Northern Illinois University, although he did quit for a spell, relying on his wages as a bartender, working about 70 hours a week at Riverside Receptions and Conference Center in Geneva. Eventually, he went back to school and got his degree while working with his grandfather’s former partner, George Beasley, at a Sycamore State Farm Insurance Agency.

After working in various roles at multiple State Farm offices, Beasley retired and Keicher replaced him in 2016.

Keicher’s vision

Vision is the key word for Keicher, and he said he’s eager to spend time with leaders in state departments and agencies to see whether they’re delivering results.

He said his main goals are to protect taxpayers and ensure public funds are well-spent. He said two of the biggest commodities in the district are education and agriculture, areas in which he wants blockades to be eliminated.

“We shouldn’t have bugaboos about letting colleges and the Department of Agriculture innovate and experiment,” he said. “Look at all these outdated, archaic things and think, ‘If we could do this all over again and work toward success in innovation, what would we do?’ So often, we don’t ask that question.”

He said in the education realm, he’d like to see far fewer than 200-plus state mandates. He said his predecessor, Bob Pritchard, who held the seat for 15 years, did a great job in working for education reform, including a recent overhaul of the school-funding formula.

“We need to allow them to innovate within their programs and their structures, and to free them from the shackles of some of the rules and regulations,” he said. “We’re mandated that children who text eight hours a day learn to write in cursive. Let the school boards, administrators and families in those districts decide.”

Pritchard said Keicher’s grit will serve him well.

“He’s a worker,” Pritchard, now a member of the NIU Board of Trustees, said, “and that’s one of the things you need to be to be successful in representing your constituents.”

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July 21, 2018 at 12:31AM

New rep discusses vision for district, Illinois

John Marshall merging into UIC for city’s first public law school

The John Marshall Law School will fold into the University of Illinois at Chicago under a plan approved by trustees at both schools Thursday to create the city’s first public law school.

The first class at the UIC John Marshall Law School is expected to matriculate in the fall of 2019, school officials said.

“The decision to create a public law school marks a historic day for higher education in Chicago,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said in a statement. “It is also a historic day for UIC, which will fill a 50-year gap in its academic offerings as a comprehensive research university.”

UIC approached John Marshall about a merger in 2016 and both sides “determined that the transaction would be financially feasible without requiring any new state funds,” according to a UIC statement.

John Marshall will lease and transfer its four Loop buildings over the next five years “and will fully integrate the law school into UIC after the closing,” the statement said. UIC “will bear no financial obligation for the acquisition.”

John Marshall Dean Darby Dickerson will hold that role through the merger.

“Chicago is the largest city in the U.S. without a public law school. The UIC John Marshall Law School will fill that gap while also enhancing legal services available to the people of Chicago,” Dickerson said in a statement.

The merger still needs accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association, as well as approval for a “change of control” from the U.S. Department of Education.

About 1,000 students are currently enrolled at John Marshall, with about 280 starting up this fall. They’ll be considered UIC students when the deal closes, with classes taught jointly by faculty from both schools — roughly 50 from John Marshall. More than 30,000 students are enrolled at UIC.

The new law school will still operate at John Marshall’s current location at State and Jackson.

UIC said the merger will create a more affordable legal education and touted it as a boon to interdisciplinary study in health sciences, engineering, urban planning and public administration.

“When you combine the strengths of the John Marshall Law School and UIC, one plus one is much greater than two,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “The merger of these two bright lights on Chicago’s scholastic landscape will strengthen education and career opportunities for generations of Chicago students, and strengthen our city’s reputation for world-class academic excellence.”

John Marshall was founded in 1899 and has long held a reputation as the city’s more accessible, working-class law school. It has churned out numerous state and local lawmakers and also counts among its alumni former White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

“John Marshall has a long tradition of educating future lawyers who dedicate their careers to serving the public,” Evans said in a statement. “This partnership marks the beginning of a new generation of UIC John Marshall lawyers who will put their legal skills to work in all three branches of government and as public-interest lawyers advocating for policies that are fair and just for all.”

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July 19, 2018 at 05:29PM

John Marshall merging into UIC for city’s first public law school

Freeman: NIU Doesn’t Need to be Reinvented

Reinventing NIU isn’t in Lisa Freeman’s plans if she becomes the university’s next permanent president. Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman was interviewed on WLBK yesterday following the NIU Board of Trustee’s decision this week to make her the sole candidate to become the next permanent president. This is happening even though Freeman initially said she wouldn’t be a candidate for the job. Freeman says she changed her mind after getting to work more closely with the university’s students and alumni.

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If she gets the job, Freeman will face the challenge of falling student enrollment.

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To turn around the enrollment trend, Freeman believes the university already

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In August and September, NIU trustees will be sitting in on a series of meetings where members of different university groups will give their input on the idea of Freeman becoming president. Board Chair Wheeler Coleman has said they plan to make a decision on whether or not Freeman will get the job by the end of September.

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July 19, 2018 at 04:25PM

Freeman: NIU Doesn’t Need to be Reinvented

Our View: Dorsey right choice to lead SIU


Jul 18, 2018 at 8:00 PM

The appointment of Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey as interim president of Southern Illinois University is a bright spot amid the ongoing in-system squabbling.

The fight has centered around how much state money each campus — the flagship campus of Carbondale and extension campus in Edwardsville — should receive. SIU Carbondale gets about 60 percent of the system’s share of state funding, even though the two campuses last fall had almost the same enrollment.

Randy Dunn, who until Monday had been SIU president, was criticized over his handling of a proposal to shift $5.1 million in state funding from the school’s Carbondale campus to the Edwardsville campus. He also irked many after he denigrated critics of the reallocation in an email that became public. 

That email accelerated the board’s loss of faith in Dunn. Dunn survived an attempt by the board to oust him, before agreeing to step down (with a $215,000 severance and a visiting professor post at Edwardsville that pays $100,000 annually).

Dorsey, who spent 14 years as the dean of SIU’s Springfield-based medical school, is a wise choice to lead the university in the interim. His tenure as dean was marked by his calm demeanor, emphasis on compassion in medicine and interest in having the medical school assist in improving the quality of life in Sangamon County. His leadership helped demonstrate what a blessing it is for Springfield to have the medical school here.

That is the type of solid leadership needed to help mend the rifts that have been caused by this regional tug-of-war. The SIU board appeared to be settling into an "us versus them" battle that wouldn’t benefit any part of the system.

“We can’t have a zero-sum game here,” Dorsey told the SJ-R earlier this week. “To have one win and one lose is a disaster for this region, and I think we can do well at working with each other.”

Amen to that. Work together on healing the rifts while the board takes the next year to find the right person to lead the entire system. With Dorsey at the helm, it should be smooth sailing.

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July 19, 2018 at 07:12AM

Our View: Dorsey right choice to lead SIU

Northern Illinois University trustees say Lisa Freeman is their pick for president

DeKALB –  Northern Illinois University trustees want Lisa Freeman to become the university’s full-time president.

All seven trustees present at a special meeting Monday voted in favor of a resolution naming Acting President Lisa Freeman as their pick for university president and to make adjustments to the presidential search process. Trustee Veronica Herrero was absent.

"We’re convinced she’s the right person to lead the university going forward," Wheeler Coleman, the board chairman, said.

Freeman previously said she didn’t plan on pursuing the permanent position, which would make her the university’s first full-fledged female president, but trustees are pushing for her to assume the role by the fall semester. Some faculty and staff representatives endorsed Freeman becoming NIU’s president, while others expressed concerns of a lack of transparency and constituent input in the selection process.

Coleman said the adjusted search process will include information-gathering sessions with several groups, including local municipal officials, the NIU Student Association, the NIU Faculty Senate and other university staff groups. He said the adjusted search process will also include a university-wide forum where Freeman will share her vision for the future and answer questions from faculty, staff and students.

Coleman said that trustees thought Freeman had done an outstanding job since taking over as acting president after the resignation of former President Douglas Baker on June 30, 2017.

"She could’ve easily sat in as acting president as a babysitter," Coleman said. "But she didn’t."

Coleman said trustees have a list of ideal qualities they’re looking for in a presidential candidate.

"And I have to tell you, that profile looks exactly like Lisa Freeman," Coleman said.

Coleman said each of the informational sessions for the adjusted search process, which will happen through August and September, will be attended by at least one trustee. He said the board hopes to make a decision by the end of September.

Freeman did not attend the special meeting. NIU spokesman Joe King said Freeman was not available for comment Monday but she plans on having more availability later this week.

Freeman’s annual salary as acting president is $360,000 with no additional compensation, according to Illinois Board of Higher Education data. Her previous base salary as executive vice-president and provost was $203,500, with $76,500 in additional compensation.

Former NIU President Doug Baker was making $450,000 a year , according to IBHE data, before resigning in June 2017 and Freeman becoming NIU’s acting president about a month later. His resignation came after a state investigation found that, since Baker became president in 2013, NIU officials improperly classified high-paying consulting positions as affiliate employees under Baker’s orders to avoid state rules that require competative bidding.

Pritchard was also sworn into the NIU Board of Trustees during the Monday meeting. He said he is looking forward to working with the board in the coming year and to having these various conversations with university stakeholders.

Cathy Doederlein, president of the NIU Supportive Professional Staff Counsel, said on behalf of Operating Staff Counsel President Holly Nicholson, who was unable to attend the meeting, that Freeman had proved herself in the acting presidential role and expressed support for Freeman being the top choice for university president.

"I don’t believe that a national search will provide a more qualified candidate," Doederlein said on behalf of Nicholson.

Doederlein herself said "ditto" to Nicholson’s comments and has heard nothing but good things about Freeman during her time as acting president.

Virginia Naples, professor of biological sciences at NIU, said she and other professors are concerned about the discussion regarding the presidential search not being open enough to students, faculty and staff. She said she felt the process in appointing Baker wasn’t transparent enough and that students are just as concerned about the hiring process for a new president this time around.

"There’s fear that this process may not get what they want," Naples said.

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July 18, 2018 at 12:57AM

Northern Illinois University trustees say Lisa Freeman is their pick for president

Some worry Dunn’s departure won’t end SIU-C, SIU-E rift

Randy Dunn is officially out as president of Southern Illinois University, but the issues that are dividing the university will continue, according to several who spoke out as Dunn’s severance was approved.

The SIU board of trustees voted unanimously Monday to approve a "voluntary separation" agreement for Dunn, which includes six months’ salary and a teaching position at SIUE beginning in January 2019.

Dunn has ties to Illinois State University, from which graduated with a master’s in administration and foundations in 1983, and the B.S. in education in 1980.

He was one of four finalists in the field to replace then-retiring president Al Bowman in 2013. That job eventually wne to Timothy Flanagan of Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

Dunn’s leadership has been controversial in recent months as a politically split board of trustees wrangled over his support for shifting more of the state’s funding from the Carbondale campus to Edwardsville, viewing it as undermining Carbondale. Last month, the board voted 4-4 on a motion to suspend Dunn, which meant it did not pass.

Trustee Joel Sambursky, who has been one of Dunn’s strongest critics, said the separation agreement was "not perfect" but provides the system the opportunity to move forward.

"It allows our university to avoid costly litigation and prolonged negative press which would chip away at the reputation of our nationally recognized campuses," he said. "There is a lot of work to be done as we move forward to strengthen the SIU system. The lifting will be heavy. We are all entitled to disagree on the specifics about how that work will be carried out, but make no mistake, the directive from the board is crystal clear: all of us must be working tirelessly to advance the interests of the SIU system."

But the Edwardsville faculty and staff who spoke to the board were more skeptical.


Eric "Duff" Wrobbel, a 25-year professor of applied communication studies at SIUE, told the board that the issue of dividing state funding will not disappear with Dunn’s departure. He reminded them that SIUE faculty spoke to them 16 months ago about the funding discrepancy, and it remains at the forefront for SIUE.

"You didn’t like his proposal? What’s yours?" he asked. "Upset he spoke to the legislature? Why didn’t you?"

Wrobbel said the numbers have all been trending in the same direction for more than a decade. "So my question is, where have all of you been?" he said. "You brought President Dunn in to solve a problem that you all avoided for more than a decade, then you paid him more money we don’t have and shoved him out when he finally tried to fix it. You have literally made things worse rather than better, so I sincerely hope that you and our next president come up with a better plan to move us forward."

Anne Hunter, current president of the SIUE Staff Senate, said she would like to think that Carbondale would now focus on their financial and enrollment issues, "but I’m not certain they are willing to do that," she said.

"Rather than face the writing on the wall, they choose to live in the past and manufacture one drama after another to distract from reality," Hunter said. "I have little faith that the board of trustees will ever give Edwardsville fair consideration now. Trustees (Joel) Sambursky and (Phil) Gilbert have repeatedly made it very clear that thy are only interested in what is best for Carbondale. They might do well to follow President Dunn’s example and do what is best for the system."

State Rep. Katie Stuart, a former SIUE professor, also felt that the funding issue still needs to be addressed by the new leadership. Stuart and state Rep. Jay Hoffman are co-sponsors of several bills that take different approaches to solving the problem: requiring a 50-50 split of funding tied to enrollment, a new board of trustees equally divided between the campuses, or a split of the entire system into two separate universities.

"I remain committed in the fight for fair funding for Edwardsville to reflect the growth in enrollment that has led to an equal student body population at the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses," Stuart said. "Regardless of who serves as president of the university, there is a serious need to evaluate the current funding system … I strongly encourage the interim president and the board of trustees to engage in this process to address the funding disparity."

Gretchen Fricke, immediate past president of the SIUE Staff Senate, is director of student services in the school of education, health and human behavior and spoke to the board Monday. "I’m not here to try to influence a decision that has been made," she said, but said she urged the board to try to heal the division within the system.

Fricke pointed out that the national Chronicle of Higher Education has had seven articles about SIU since January: five about the funding split controversy and two about the ethics investigations into SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

"No campus in our system can afford an enrollment drop that the continued negative publicity will bring," Fricke said.

Dunn did not attend Monday’s meeting. On Friday, he issued a statement acknowledging that he had "become a polarizing figure."

"My retirement, along with the new leadership of an outstanding interim president, can allow healing to begin across all parts of the organization and advance important decisions that will need to be made for the future," he said.

On Monday, the board also approved the appointment of Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, former dean of the SIU School of Midicine, as interim president. Dorsey will serve for one year during the search for the next president. SIU Board Chair Amy Sholar said information will be released over the next several months regarding the organization of a search committee and the process by which the university will look for its next leader.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

(c)2018 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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July 17, 2018 at 08:38PM

Some worry Dunn’s departure won’t end SIU-C, SIU-E rift