Former U of I chancellor's departure cost called endemic of Illinois waste
The one-year, $365,000 sabbatical paid to a former University of Illinois chancellor is an example of the type of wasteful spending that needs to be eliminated in Illinois, the Better Government Association (BGA) contended recently.
The BGA accuses the state of awarding severance packages for public employees that near the value of so-called "golden parachutes" in private business. It also says the state has been less than transparent about how the value of these packages is determined.
Former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned in 2013, as documents were about to be released that strongly suggested she was hiding information from the public, according to the BGA. Her initial resignation was going to net her a $400,000 bonus, but the school board rejected the resignation following a public outcry. Wise submitted a second resignation without a bonus still received the sabbatical and a tenured teaching position with a $298,926 salary.
The BGA s urges Illinois to follow the example of California and Florida. In 2011, Florida restricted severance pay for all public employees to 20 weeks for contracted employees and six weeks for non-contracted employees. In 2015, California reined in the severance pay for K-12 school superintendents from 18 to 12 months.
Illinois does have severance pay law in place, but only for community colleges. Employees of community colleges are entitled to no more than one year of severance pay, and other aspects of the law make the process of contract renewal more transparent and open.