In one e-mail exchange, University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman forced the law school to admit an unqualified applicant backed by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking a promise from the governor's go-between that five law school graduates would get jobs. The applicant, a relative of deep-pocketed Blagojevich campaign donor Kerry Peck, appears to have been pushed by Trustee Lawrence Eppley, who often carried the governor's admissions requests.
When Law School Dean Heidi Hurd balked on accepting the applicant in April 2006, Herman replied that the request came "Straight from the G. My apologies. Larry has promised to work on jobs (5). What counts?"
Hurd replied: "Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar."
Hurd's e-mail suggests that students getting the jobs are to be those in the "bottom of the class." Law school rankings depend in part on the job placement rate of graduates.
It wasn't immediately clear if the private sector or government jobs were provided.
Gov. Pat Quinn convened a state commission to investigate the U. of I. admissions process after the Tribune revealed that more than 800 undergraduate applicants in the last five years received special consideration because they were backed by U. of I. trustees, legislators and others in powerful posts.
Commission chairman Abner Mikva, a retired judge, said he intends to call everyone implicated in this e-mail exchange to testify before the panel. He said he learned of the e-mails late Wednesday from President B. Joseph White.
"It just gets thicker and thicker and it's not good," Mikva said of the scandal.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
More On Rezko University
The Chicago Tribune's investigation into how political clout has dirtied up the admissions process at the University of Illinois continues to roll on. It's bad enough that the school admitted woefully unqualified candidates with political clout to the university, but it turns out that university officials also traded jobs for law school graduates in consideration for admitting unqualified candidates to the law school. The e-mail exchanges the Tribune revealed between university officials discussing the admission of clout-heavy candidates in exchange for finding jobs for five graduating law school students is unbelievable. After the law school admissions dean learned that the governor's office agreed to help find jobs for the five graduating students, the dean replied, "Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar." "Sheesk. It's enough to make one want to be a Republican," Heidi Hurd added. Here's a part of what the Tribune story found: