Monday, August 3, 2009

University of Illinois Trustee Chairman Steps Down

(Very Special Thanks to Bob Dylan)

Nepotism, Fraud and Loathing in Chicago

Chicago, IL – Kudos to journalists Tara Malone, Stacy St. Clair, and Jodi S. Cohen at the Chicago Tribune for their ongoing investigation into this story that Rob Sanchez further explains regarding the Shah family's nepotism connection to pay-to-play politics in this VDARE article.

Perhaps the greatest regret for Niranjan Shah was not getting away with blaming his secretary for his own role in the University's alleged “unending” hiring and admissions scandals as  journalist Stacy St. Clair reveals U of I Board Chair Niranjan Shah Throws Secretary Under the Bus – Pat Quinn Should Fire Shah Now in the Chicago Tribune:

Shah blamed his secretary for his e-mails in which he sought to grease the application gears for multiple student applicants.
She put the words together and I didn’t check,” he said.
Whatta gutless wonder. Blaming his secretary?
She remembers writing these,” he said. “I’m embarrassed.”
And Shah is an embarrassment to the University of Illinois.
Governor Pat Quinn should fire Shah by asking for his resigination. Period. Now.
Shah is disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appointment to the U of I Board. He’s also a $50,000 contributor to Blagojevich. The disgrace just trickles down. The pay-to-play mentality is alive and well with Shah and throws people under the bus à la Blagojevich.
Quinn has pledged to fumigate Illinois government. Shah should be on top of any fumigation list.”

He “didn't check”? Where's the full bore apology to all of the local applicants who could not get into the U. of I. because he was busy handing those seats to his pals and family? Where else is this going on? The degree of arrogance and lack of remorse are either astounding or par for the course. While Shah acknowledged he "advocated" for (certain) student applicants, he nonetheless testified before the state commission that many of his most aggressive requests were written by a secretary at his Chicago-based engineering firm who embellished his intentions. Great! Did his parents never tell him “A good workman never blames his tools?”

According to the Tribune, in March 2008, Shah had pushed for a student to be admitted to the rigorous MBA program, even though Chancellor Richard Herman warned that school officials "had serious concerns about his ability to handle the academics" and the student's GPA was "below what is admissible." Admissions officers were never able to confirm whether the student had attended an accredited college:

"May be [sic] he can be on probation during first year," Shah suggested.
E-mails show that when Shah pressed for a decision before he visited the student's family in India, the business school relented and offered the applicant a spot.
Shah said the applicant's family reached out to him because they wanted to be sure the admissions office was aware of the complex grading systems used at some Indian universities, including the one the student attended."

Commenter “Dean” summarizes Shah's response to having his hand slammed by the cookie jar lid:

"When I became a Trustee...many of the stakeholders in the University of Illinois system--Trustees, university administrators and staff, legislators and others--operated under a set of rules and norms that seemed appropriate at the time," Niranjan Shah said in a prepared statement. "Today, I recognize that those rules are changing with the times, and I think that change is a very good thing."
What Shah really meant: "It used to be OK to lie, cheat and steal so my friends and family could be admitted to or get high-paying jobs at the University of Illinois, but in the last month it became not OK and that's just stinks for me."
This is another embarrassment for the state and additional proof of the waste and fraud in all levels of nearly all governmental bodies in this state.”

Integrity schemgrity. We used to care, but things have changed. With more journalists like this dynamic trio at the Trib, maybe they can get better again.



J.S. said...

Thanks for posting about the Trib's fine investigative journalism into nespotism and the players in this scandal. Hopefully this will encourage more oversight so that potential, qualified citizens can have a fair shot at those college seats. Campaign contributions have the potential to work wonders. How about the average citizens who pay their taxes? Where does all that money go?

Grange said...

Terrific reporting from these folks at the Tribune.
"Shah told the commission that many of his most aggressive requests were written by a secretary at his Chicago-based engineering firm who embellished his intentions. He also pointed a finger at Chancellor Richard Herman and previous U. of I. President James Stukel, 'blaming them for facilitating his meddling rather than telling him it was wrong.'" and

"If Shah hadn’t resigned, he likely would have been asked to step down. The commissioners had focused on Shah, saying he may have violated the Illinois Ethics Act rules against nepotism." and

"After learning of his resignation, Commissioner Maribeth Vander Weele said: “Clearly it was the right thing to do. Trustee Shah’s actions were the most egregious of any trustees’ [actions].”