Poshard refutes claims of weak leadership

By Tara Kulash

SIU President Glenn Poshard says accusations against his leadership are egregious.

After two board members questioned his position in the university system, Poshard held a press conference Tuesday to attempt to debunk the accusations, where he listed complaints against him from two board



Five days after the SIU Board of Trustees annual election when chairman Roger Herrin was voted out of his position 4 to 2, Herrin said he believed the removal was the direct doing of Poshard. Herrin was appointed to the board by Quinn in April 2011 and is known to have a close working relationship with the governor.

Trustee Don Lowery, one of the two to vote in favor or Herrin’s tenure, sided with Herrin and said he thinks Poshard should step down as president.

In response, Poshard read a statement from newly elected board chairman John Simmons, which stated Poshard has been one of the most democratic, open and transparent leaders the university has seen and has effectively managed the university’s budget, even in difficult financial times.

“To suggest these accomplishments should be undermined by reckless and false statements by some board members staggers the imagination,” it states. “Dr. Poshard is being crucified today by two board members because he has dared to stand up to their threats of intimidation and bullying.”

In reference to the bullying, Poshard said Herrin repeatedly threatened board members that if they didn’t agree with his ideas, he would call Gov. Pat Quinn to take care of them.

“That’s bullshit,” Herrin said in response after the press conference.

He said he thinks Poshard made up the statement to try to deflect the attention from his own flaws.

Poshard claimed the governor’s office even called board members to ask if they planned to vote for Herrin again as chairman. If members said they didn’t plan to, Poshard said, the governor’s office asked them to skip the election or risk being removed from their position.

Both Herrin and Lowery said they knew nothing about the threat.

“I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff,” Lowery said. “No one asked me to either quit or vote for anybody for chair. No one talked to me ahead of time.”

Poshard said the two claimed he didn’t communicate with them enough. He pointed to a large stack of papers at the press conference as proof of the emails he sent out to every board member informing them of the university’s updates.

Lowery said Poshard is famous for leaving paper trails, though.

“He’s talking about mundane stuff,” he said. “He’s not talking about keeping us informed on items of importance. He’s notorious for wordy emails that go on forever.”

One example of a lack of communication, Lowery said, was when Poshard failed to inform board members of basketball coach Chris Lowery’s termination. He said he had to find out about it by watching the news.

Poshard said, however, he alerted Herrin of the termination only about two hours after he found out himself. He said in response, Herrin demanded to be a part of the search committee for a new coach.

“I don’t know anywhere that a board of trustee chairman serves on a search committee for a coach,” Poshard said.

He said Herrin told him who should and shouldn’t be coach and even claimed he had been recruiting a coach on his own.

Herrin said he didn’t exactly say he should be on the search committee but rather suggested a board member be on it, perhaps trustee Ed Hightower since he has extended experience as a referee.

Poshard said another complaint made against him was that the board was not made aware of the marketing firm the university hired. He said the board approved of the firm, though, in its meetings.

Lowery, however, said it wasn’t the hiring of the firm he wasn’t aware of, but the $2.5 million cost.

“They treat this expenditure of money like it’s just free money coming from the sky,” he said.

Herrin said the Board of Trustees election was clearly orchestrated because newly elected chairman Simmons already had his committee appointments prepared, when he supposedly didn’t even know he would be nominated.

Herrin said he didn’t get paid for his position as chairman, nor did he care to. He said he took the position because he cares about the university and he was removed because he stood up to Poshard.

Lowery said he thinks Poshard should step down as president.

“They got rid of Chris Lowery because he had a couple of losing seasons, and that’s not even as serious as eight years of declining enrollment and stagnation for this university,” he said. “Nowhere would any institution keep somebody with a declining enrollment like that. It’s time for him to step down. He ought to have the decency to do it.”

Poshard said he has no plans to step down.

“I will continue to serve as long as I can serve, and if they want to try to remove in some way or the other, then that’s their prerogative,” he said.