Gov. Pat Quinn announced three new university Board of Trustees members in a statement Monday.
Sandra Cook, of Collinsville; Melvin Terrell, of Chicago; and Lee Milner, of Springfield, will replace the three highest-ranking board members: Chairman John Simmons, Secretary Mark Hinrichs and Vice Chairman Ed Hightower, President Glenn Poshard said, and a new chairman will be elected. According to WSIL, the former members’ terms ended last month, and the new members will be seated during Thursday’s meeting.
“Once the chairman is appointed, then he fills the other positions, he or she, whoever it is,” Poshard said.
Poshard said he is unsure why Quinn chose to replace Simmons, Hinrichs and Hightower.
However, Poshard said the new members are qualified for the job.
“They have extensive backgrounds of service and education,” he said. “I think they are imminently qualified, from what I have seen so far of their resumes.”
According to the statement, Cook is a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant who served from 1979- 2001. She earned her undergraduate degree at SIU, and she is a senior associate at the Brown and James law firm’s Belleville branch.
The statement said Milner is the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center’s public affairs manager. He is a U.S. army veteran, received his bachelor’s degree from the university and serves as the FBI Springfield Citizens Academy Alumni Association president, the statement said.
Quinn’s statement said Terrell served at Northeastern Illinois University from 1998-2008 as vice president for Student Affairs and a professor of counselor education. He founded the university’s minority mentorship program and is a former president of the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals, according to the statement.
A 2012 Chicago Sun-Times article reported Terrell was also involved in a lawsuit brought by NEIU professor Loretta Capeheart, who claimed Terrell falsely accused her of stalking a student and hurt her chances of winning a faculty award. A Cook County judge threw out the case when Terrell and the university claimed defamation immunity under the Illinois Citizens Participation Act, which protects a citizen’s right to speak out in public forums from lawsuits, according to the article.
In August 2012, an appeals court vacated the decision and said NEIU was not supported by the Supreme Court Garcetti vs. Ceballos decision, which states public employees expression “pursuant to free speech” is unprotected by the Constitution, according to an article in NEIU’s newspaper The Independent.