Pritzker appoints five new members to SIU Board of Trustees

By Brian Munoz, Editor in Chief

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The SIU Board of Trustees will see five new faces after Gov. JB Pritzker chose to not reappoint trustees Randal Thomas, Shirley Portwood and Joel Sambursky. Pritzker has also dismissed trustees Marsha Ryan and Tom Britton, who were never formally approved through the Illinois Senate.

Filling the five trustee positions, upon Senate confirmation, are Subhash Sharma, Roger Tedrick, Edgar J. Curtis, Ed Hightower and John Simmons.

“Serving on the SIU Board of Trustees has been a great honor. I approached this responsibility as I have all other areas of my life and gave it everything I had,” Sambursky said.  “I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have served during a critical time in the University’s history.”

Sambursky said despite challenges the board faced, he is proud of the colleagues who stood by him in defense of the SIU System.

“I am disappointed that I will not continue my service on the board. Yet, I leave confident in Judge Gilbert’s leadership. I will continue to offer my support to a University that has done so much for me and my family,” Sambursky said. “I wish the new Trustees the best. It’s important to all of us throughout southern Illinois that they are successful.”

Sharma is a former professor and former chair in the Department of Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and retired Fall 2018. He started at the university in 1983, according to his CV. He worked on a 2008 study estimating the economic impact of a proposed capital spending plan which was advocated by then-governor Rod Blagojevich and was considered by the Illinois general Assembly.

Tedrick, a 1970 graduate of Southern Illinois University, is the president and CEO of Tedrick Insurance Agency in Mount Vernon. He has served on the SIU Foundation Board and as its president. He has also served as chair of the Saluki Futures Campaign for athletic facilities.  

Tedrick was a member of the SIU Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2011, serving as board as chair for six years. Last February, Tedrick and his wife, Sally, pledged donating $250 thousand over five years to help add undergraduate research opportunities through the REACH program. 

Tedrick was in hot water when a 2009 Chicago Tribune report revealed Tedrick, who owns Tedrick Insurance based in Mt. Vernon, sold insurance to construction companies that, in nearly 40 instances, won business with the university.

The report shows he voted to approve at least 20 of the contracts, which also included contracts for Saluki Way, the university’s $83 million campus overhaul project that built Saluki Stadium and renovated SIU Arena.

Tedrick, along with fellow board members John Simmons and Bill Bonan II, gave money to Blagojevich, causing some to speculate they paid for board positions, according to the Daily Egyptian.

“Am I proud that I gave to Blagojevich? No,” Tedrick said in a 2009 interview. “I wish I hadn’t ever given him anything because he is a joke.”




Curtis is the president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health System, where he has served in the role since January 2008. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1975 and is member of the 2009 SIUE Alumni Hall of Fame.

Hightower is the director of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation  and is a three-degree holder from SIU Edwardsville – a 1974 BS in physical education, a Masters in Education in 1977 and a Specialist Degree in 1991. He was superintendent of the Edwardsville School District for 16 years. He previously served on the SIU Board of Trustees from 2001-2013 as a trustee, vice chair of the board and chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

Simmons is a chairman of the national law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy. He is a 1991 graduate of SIUE, receiving his degree in political science. The namesake for SIUE’s Simmons Baseball Complex, Simmons worked to send SIUE Athletics to full NCAA Division I status. He previously served as a member of the SIU Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2013.

Hightower’s and Simmons’ appointment raises concerns to some after Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, introduced legislation in 2013 attempting to split the system.

Then-president Glenn Poshard said then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice to not reappoint three Metro East trustees – John Simmons, Ed Hightower and Mark Hinrichs, “caused the feelings of separation to reignite, saying SIU Edwardsville is well loved and some feel the campus is not getting the respect it deserves.”

Hightower was named in correspondence where Randy Dunn, former SIU president, instructed Randy Pembrook, SIU Edwardsville chancellor, to get an Edwardsville trustee named prior to Tom Britton’s appointment to the board.

““You are meeting w/ Jay Hoffman tomorrow, yes? Whenever…drive home the point that you need his help getting the vacant Trustee seat filled with a metro east person,” Dunn wrote. “While the gov’s office isn’t going to listen to Jay…Jay knows the people who the gov’s office will listen to on this one. We might end up with Ed Hightower, who knows, but he is 100 times better than the 4th who the Carbondale T’ees are trying to get named…”

The correspondence was part of nearly 1,900 pages of materials made public by the Board of Trustees June 2018, which showed Dunn coordinated with SIUE administration and legislators in attempts to dissolve the university system.

The next SIU Board of Trustees meeting is next Wednesday and Thursday at the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Editor in Chief Brian Munoz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @brianmmunoz.

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