WIU presidential search on hold due to COVID-19

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — The process for deciding the 12th president of Western Illinois University is at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak.

WIU Board of Trustees Chair Polly Radosh said the pandemic is causing a delay in moving forward.

“The search is in a holding pattern,” Radosh told the board Monday during a special meeting. “We’re ready to go; we could go forward, but we can’t go forward.”

The question was raised during the meeting about where the search stands. This comes after the board voted in December to hire a presidential search firm to conduct a national search for the next WIU president over appointing Interim President Martin Abraham.

“We’ve had several emails from people and faculty and others, along with two board members,” Radosh said.

Radosh said in the last few months, progress has been made on forming the search committee. She said the leaders of the search, Trustee Patrick Twomey, WIU Faculty Senate Chair Christopher Pynes and herself have been meeting regularly since December through the middle of March. She said three out of five search firms have submitted proposals for review. All of the 23 committee members except community members have been selected to serve on the search. Radosh said the board must choose who they want from the community.

Trustee Kisha Lang responded by saying, “The board should move forward with the presidential search. I believe we all are still looking forward to the search,” Lang said.

The vote failed back in December when the board took up the measure on whether to appoint Abraham as president. Trustees Lang, Doug Shaw, Greg Aguilar and Justin Brown voted against the appointment. Board chair Polly Radosh and Trustees Carin Stutz, Erik Dolieslager and Patrick Twomey voted in favor of appointing Abraham as president.

“We could reconsider, we might reconsider,” Radosh said to the board Monday.

Radosh said Abraham suggested that if the board decided to bring the measure up again, to wait until a regular board meeting with open discussion and not during an emergency situation.

The ongoing discussions comes after former WIU President Jack Thomas left WIU last June on paid administrative leave. He was named president of Central State University in February. There is no word if Thomas will continue to be paid by WIU after accepting his new position.

As of now, Abraham will continue to serve as WIU’s interim president at least through June 2020. The next BOT meeting is scheduled for June 11 and 12 at the WIU Quad-Cities campus.