University of Illinois Law School Accused of Trading Admission for Unqualified Student in Exchange for Five Jobs for Graduates

chancellor142px-UIUC_seal.svgThe scandal involving University of Illinois Law School is getting worse by the day. We previously discussed the scandal involving the admissions process and the use of “special admits” where deans circumvent the usual process to guarantee admission for certain well-connected students.The Chicago Tribune continues to uncover shocking examples of manipulation of the admissions process at Illinois by politicians and donors. This may be an example of why admissions are like sausage and legislation — things that you should not watch being made.

The latest disclosure involves an unqualified student who was given admission in exchange for a quid pro quo arrangement — a promise of five jobs for graduates if the student was admitted.

Once again, the main culprit appears to be University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman who comes across more like a patronage boss than an academic. The other party is again former dean Heidi Hurd, who objects but does not appear to fight particularly hard for the academic integrity of the process or school. 0718Hurd,Heidi_w

In one e-mail exchange, Herman forces Hurd to admit an unqualified applicant backed by former (and now disgraced) Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Herman appears to have been negotiating with Blagojevich political operative and Trustee Lawrence Eppley. The student was a relative of major political donor Kerry Peck. Herman acts like a petty party functionary. When Hurd objects, Herman responds that the request came “Straight from the G. My apologies. Larry has promised to work on jobs (5). What counts?” Hurd responds with “Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar.” Hurd then goes not to suggest that the five must come from the “bottom of the class” — presumably a way of increasing the school’s placement figures for the annual ranking by U.S. News and World Report.

Hurd treated the process as inevitable and, instead of refusing such admits, she promised to get a good deal, telling the admissions staff in 2003 “I’ll do my best to keep the number of Provostian admits to a minimum, and extract payment for them.”

The fact is that such special admits occur in some form in most, if not all, schools. Schools like to pick legacy admissions for families with multi-generations at the school and also favor the children of major donors. However, deans are expected to guarantee that such factors are given some but not determinative weight — requiring that the students be otherwise competitive and not substantially below admissions standards.

While Hurd can be criticized for failing to fight harder, she clearly did object to the process. Yet, the quid pro quo arrangement was an outrage and Hurd should never have participated in such an arrangement. There is a time when a dean should resign rather than allow such a corruption of the process.

The person most at fault is obviously Herman who should lose his job over this controversy. Herman abandoned any semblance of academic integrity and independence. He actively worked to corrupt the admissions process, even after the objections of the dean. The trading of unqualified admissions for jobs is an outrageous act for both Herman and Hurd. Eppley also needs to be removed from any continued position as trustee and barred from any later position of authority with the university.

I just spoke at the University of Illinois to a group of judges and I ran into a member of the Illinois faculty who expressed his utter disgust with both Herman and Hurd. What is sad is that this is one of the finest law schools in the country and both the students and faculty deserved far better treatment.

These emails demean the entire teaching academy and haggling over price like jobs does little to improve the situation. It brings to mind Winston Churchill’s famous exchange at dinner with a woman when he asked her if she would sleep with him for one million dollars. When she said that she would, he asked her if she would sleep with him for one dollar. She was deeply insulted and asked “What do you think I am, a prostitute?” “Madam” Churchill replied, “We’ve already established what you are, now we’re just haggling over the price.” It appears that the price at Illinois is five jobs. While I do not believe that many deans or provosts would have accepted such an exchange, there are many deans and provosts who are all too willing to haggle over price.

While some defenders suggest that this is an inevitable factor for any public school subject to legislative authority, I disagree. First, as a public institution, the provost and dean has an added obligation to guarantee the citizens of Illinois that these valuable slots are being awarded fairly and openly. Second, if the dean had fought this corruption, she would have had a large and powerful alumni in the state to back her. The Illinois graduates are fiercely loyal and hold powerful positions in the bar and the courts. Some of the judges who I spoke with last week were Illinois graduates and expressed outrage at the manipulation of the process. Finally, regardless of whether you are a public or a private institution, you have an independent obligation as an academic to protect the integrity of your school and the academy at large.

I am not surprised that a bottom feeder like Blogojevich would degrade this process, but it is the participation of academics like Herman and Hurd that is a shocking addition to this scandal.

For the full story, click here.

50 thoughts on “University of Illinois Law School Accused of Trading Admission for Unqualified Student in Exchange for Five Jobs for Graduates”

  1. Hi GWLSM, Jill & et al,

    Just to avoid any confusion I was responding to posts form last evening and not your discussion; I hope you all are having a good weekend!

  2. Jill,

    Hats off to all the wonderful gentlemen who have already voiced their support of your posts; I share their regard for your many contributions.

    I wish you (and all who visit here) peace and equanimity!

  3. Jill writes: I reject the terms in which you place both education and work. I do not reject them in the sense of saying, they do not exist. I am saying there is another and better way of doing things for both adults and children. Alfie Kohn did a lot of research on the way we normally think of and organize school and the workplace. He shows that not only is this not a good way of doing things, it’s counterproductive. I agree with Mike S., about evaluations. I said: “Evaluations of our work are important but have nothing to do with grading. There are many ways of evaluating ourselves and others– letter grades are one of the worst.”

    me: okay then so you reject my terms, which btw, are not my terms but the terms that both teacher and student have agreed to for decades of successful public education. YOu might as easily reject public education which is also your right to do, but let me ask you this: how many kids have you sent through the public education system?
    has any of it worked for them? for you maybe?
    I wasn’t sure that it would work for my kids because I thought it didn’t work for me. the real truth is that I never valued my access to education until way late, when I returned to university to complete an undergrad education that spanned three decades. school has no value if learning is meaningless. the process of learning has to be evaluative for both student and teacher.
    my kids have done remarkable things in the public education system of four states, all very different kids, all very different school districts. the common bond among the kids is a basic love of learning and the common bond with the schools is parent involvement, mainly mine. you’ll recall that I wrote those schools and those teachers work for us and once parents and students accept that and take advantage of it the system really can work for them in many remarkable ways.
    you keep quoting this book and maybe it has some good ideas, but my experience as a mother with four kids who are making their way through the educational system is more meaningful to me.

    you: One problem (and it’s a big one as Mike clearly elucidated) with how we do things is it leads, not to a meritocracy, but a plutocracy.

    me: do you work? I mean for money? outside your home? the workplace is a patriarchal oligarchy. here is your desk, your phone, your computer. These are the hours you will work and this is when you get your 15 minute morning and afternoon breaks and your 30 minute lunch break. You get x hours of paid leave per year. You get these health benefits, maybe. you do the work that is assigned to you and you wear what they tell you to wear. it doesn’t really matter what philosophy of education inculcated you. you will work for the owner of the business and do your best to make him/her as wealthy as possible.

    You: This is why we keep getting the same type of people in power no matter what color, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity they may be.

    me: this is a wild overgeneralization. don’t you think?

    you: It is why the people who have brought the Constitution and our financial system to the brink are precisely the educated elite.

    me: there are plenty of well-educated folks who have not participated in the collective ruin of the nation, as you see it and please spend a few minutes with this…. it sounds just a bit hysterical.

    you: (Remember that the lawyers on trial for war crimes are considered the best and the brightest.

    me: nah. the best and brightest are guys like Lawrence Tribe and Jonathan Turley and Jeffrey Rosen and scores of others who did not choose to become part of Bushco. Yoo is not the best and brightest of any group of attorneys. If he had been he’d have done things differently. maybe his time spent clerking for Clarence Thomas sharpened his taste for a different kind of law.

    you: Also, interestingly, even Harvard Business School is reevaluating how they are teaching their students. They came to the conslusion that they were in fact doing something wrong, as so many people responsible for the financil collapse came from their MBA program.) Things must be evaluated on whether they create a good life for oneself, for others and the environment. We are clearly failing in this task. We must change the idea of what it means to learn, work and be sucessful in this society.
    All of our well-being depends on it.

    me: I guess I should just pull my kid out of law school and her sisters out of their schools and colleges, abandon our house and move to some beach on an island and make hippie handicrafts. if failure is such a certainty as you seem to believe…..

  4. Jill,
    Thanks for asking about my grandson. He is doing great and just turned 6 months old. He will be coming with his Mom tomorrow so that is why I had to get the lawn mowed. Plus it is now raining here in Northern Illinois so I got the lawn done just in time.
    Former Fed,
    Thanks for the kind words. I do mow the lawn myself, however most of it is on a lawn tractor so it isn’t all manual labor. It is nice that you noticed my morning posts and my after work posts. I really enjoy all of the posts on Prof. Turley’s blog. Even the ones that I don’t agree with. Have a great weekend everyone.

  5. Jill

    Why would you have a microprocessor on your clavicle, or a Hare across your Donkey, and most certainly, why would you want to cross a bear?

  6. Jill

    Thank you and your welcome.

    What you said does mean a lot to me. we are all in this life together.

    We have all disagreed with each other at some time, (or many times) but there are many good people who post here and I’m lucky to know you (god I’m afraid to use that word now, it’s been sullied!).

    I have disagreed and not understood many times maybe because I did not understand is why I disagreed. But you still have the right to stay and say what you want. Why? Because this is the modern day peace tree.

    I would love to tell you where I really live (NO YOU WOULOS NOT)
    you would die laughing! I hear them trailers come in many different sizes now. Maybe some are three storys tall, I hear.

    There’s a good reason why I don’t or I would–close to a witness protection kind of reason (I don’t understand)

    But here’s a couple of real kickers–you know us hillbillies: Yep, you gotta have 32 of ya to have a full set of teeth. And I hear ya invented the toothbrush.

    We go back a long way, (Can’t be many splits, 2 maybe at the max) long enough for me to have a letter from the Revolutionary War. (Yep thats where they all started the inbreeding)

    This means I could technically, belong to a certain group that traces their linage to that time. (My GGGGGGreat faher came over as an indentured servant, not much has really changed if you consider taxes) It means Mike A. isn’t allowed to argue with me. (Nor me either, Ya hear that Mike A. Don’t argue with me either)

    And I got me a genuine scholarship to Harvard but didn’t go there. Pretty ironic huh? (Whats the problem, could not get into a better school?, no plans on working after college? U of Texas is not out of the State of Texas, I understand now)

    So thanks again. (You are most welcome)

    Come back again real soon, ya hear?

  7. Rafflaw,

    What, a high-priced attorney doing his own lawn!

    When I read articles like this, I think of journeymen attorneys like you who work hard every day and whose profession is disparaged by actions of dishonest attorneys, as illustrated in this story. The fact that you try to post within this blawg every evening after your lawyerly chores are through for the day, and then again in the morning before you go to work, does not go unnoticed.

    The other fine attorneys here are also dedicated and they are often more prolific posters, but you strike me as from a somewhat different lawyerly mould than the others; more of a law mechanic as opposed to a flashier Grand Prix racecar aficionado type (now, please no misinterpretations from other attorneys).

    I mean my statements in the best sense possible, because that is the type of LEO I considered myself.

  8. Thanks rafflaw! I didn’t see your post until after mine. Ditto what I said to everyone else. Hope your grandson is well and happy.

  9. Thank you to Vince, Buddha and again to A.Y.!

    What you said does mean alot to me. We have all disagreed with each other at some time, (or many times) but there are many good people who post here and I’m lucky to know you (god I’m afraid to use that word now, it’s been sullied!).

    I would love to tell you where I really live, you would die laughing! There’s a good reason why I don’t or I would–close to a witness protection kind of reason 🙂 But here’s a couple of real kickers–you know us hillbillies: we go back a long way, long enough for me to have a letter from the Revolutionary War. This means I could technically, belong to a certain group that traces their linage to that time. It means Mike A. isn’t allowed to argue with me. And I got me a genuine scholarship to Harvard but didn’t go there. Pretty ironic huh?

    So thanks again.

  10. Wow!
    I leave for a few hours to do the lawn and things get a little nasty! Hang in there Jill. We don’t always see eye to eye on the issues, but there is no place for attacks like that. Have a good weekend.

  11. Jill,

    I think everyone likes you. Your ideals? Maybe not, but you are not afraid to say what you mean and mean what you say. That is very lacking in our society. Keep on contributing, and maybe I might be lucky enough to meet you in that run down trailer that you supposedly live in.

    It does not take much to make a house a home, it take a big heart to make a home a home. Keep up your Big Heart. I’ll respond each and every time some one disparages you or for that fact anyone. I am trying to be more tactful. Buddha is learnin me, maybe not, I may of had this nice streak in me all along.

  12. Is it really shocking that the elites by cash (as opposed to by merit) operate by their own set of rules, all the while deprecating those poor souls who enjoy the meagerest of advantage afforded them by paltry government programs? This “pecking order” has existed among the ruling classes for decades in our Country and we only see glimpses of it when someone gets caught with their shorts around their ankles. Advantages, fair or not, are never wasted by this crowd, and the only way to stop it is to open the phantasmagorical world of college/law school admissions to public scrutiny. I say it all the time, but sunlight is still the best disinfectant, and if this wasn’t a legal blog, I wouldn’t even think of giving Justice Brandeis the attribution he deserves for thinking of it first and thus heap the credit on me alone. Call me an elite!

  13. Leo anb Ay, let me add that Jill has made invaluable contributionns to this site for years. I hope she continues.

  14. FFLEO,

    Thank you! As soon as I saw the post I didn’t read it because I knew it would be a lulu!!! Oh well. (I wasn’t sure who was going to get it though because she hates both GWL and me. I was leaning towards myself and got that right, it appears!) Sometimes people are very predictable.

  15. Jill,

    You add a lot to this blawg and please never forget that fact, regardless of any other comments.

    I will not say that again because you understand how the majority of people respond to you here.

  16. Patty C

    Crappy job,
    So long, now.
    Patty C

    Good Bye Now, with all of your rudeness.

    Go back to who ever you were taunting when you were not here. It has been some pleasant debate without All of your nastiness.

  17. rafflaw,

    I don’t think it works fine. The elite schools produce way too many people like Yoo et al. These schools don’t have enough class diversity. They also don’t select for ethical diversity. There’s a real reason why many of our current moral monsters come from our most elite institutions. I interact with many of these types and I have to say their thinking is ignorant and limited

    You haven’t the slightest idea, once again, of what you are talking about-probably because, as you say, you don’t assoicae with the people you ‘despise’.

    From the beginning, JIll, I have percieved you as a ‘victim’ with an alternating ‘cross to bear’, ‘chip on your shoulder’, and ‘hair across your ass’…

    You are one of the most overall daily negative personalties I have ever comes across in my lifetime. You detest people of privilege, without a doubt, but also those of notable advanced intelligence who are recipients of extraordinary opportunity on their own merit based on talent, hard work AND, yes, luck or fate.

    ALL OF IT just burns your simpering petty behind…

    Barrack Obama is a prime example. You never could stand him and if you ever want a anti-liberal radio show you should call up Rush Lamebough now. He may be hiring for a summer apprentice. In fact, check out Clear Channel who may have a Sports Channel you can jump into the background with at specified times.

    Crappy job, but you might like it.

    If it gets you off here, that would be fine with moi.
    So long, now.
    Patty C

  18. GWL,

    I reject the terms in which you place both education and work. I do not reject them in the sense of saying, they do not exist. I am saying there is another and better way of doing things for both adults and children. Alfie Kohn did a lot of research on the way we normally think of and organize school and the workplace. He shows that not only is this not a good way of doing things, it’s counterproductive. I agree with Mike S., about evaluations. I said: “Evaluations of our work are important but have nothing to do with grading. There are many ways of evaluating ourselves and others– letter grades are one of the worst.”

    One problem (and it’s a big one as Mike clearly elucidated) with how we do things is it leads, not to a meritocracy, but a plutocracy. This is why we keep getting the same type of people in power no matter what color, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity they may be. It is why the people who have brought the Constitution and our financial system to the brink are precisely the educated elite. (Remember that the lawyers on trial for war crimes are considered the best and the brightest. Also, interestingly, even Harvard Business School is reevaluating how they are teaching their students. They came to the conslusion that they were in fact doing something wrong, as so many people responsible for the financil collapse came from their MBA program.) Things must be evaluated on whether they create a good life for oneself, for others and the environment. We are clearly failing in this task. We must change the idea of what it means to learn, work and be sucessful in this society. All of our well-being depends on it.

  19. “This phenomenon is only becoming more severe as the United States becomes ever more a society of two classes — the new nobility and the new serfdom.”

    I’d like to follow up on Hugh Sansom’s point and then swing over to Jill’s.

    Hugh cuts to the essence of this and in doing so exposes the worst evil being perpetrated here. The essence of the American myth is that anyone, from any circumstance, can achieve success by dint of hard work and intelligence. The main path towards achieving success is via education. While some may protest that entrepreneurship, doesn’t necessarily require a good education, I would respond that good, available credit is what makes the difference between small business success and failure. Poor kids don’t have access to the same credit resources, that Bill Gates for instance did as the child of upper middle class parents. Therefore the chief career path for the underpriveleged is education.

    When we see things like this instance at UI/LS and the image of GW Bush being admitted to Yale via legacy, it gives lie to the “hard work will lead to success” mythology. Instead it exposes the hard to face truth that in our country we do have a nobility, a shrinking middle/mercantile class and a growing peasantry. The truth is that our politics could schematically be called a battle between those who want to entrench the nobility and expand its hold; against those who want this society to be run on a more egalitarian basis.

    Some might counter that there are wealthy families that rise and fall all the time, so that gives lie to the idea of an entrenched nobility. I would demolish that by asking those proponents to look at the history of European Nobility, where noble family’s fortunes also rose and fell. What was true then and what remains the same in the US today is that the “elite,” our nobility, for the most part remains constant given that their progeny enjoy advantages beyond everyone else in their respective age group.

    Which brings me to Jill’s point. I would disagree with her only in that at some points in a child’s educational career there needs to be measurements of progress and potential, in order to allow the individual to find the career niche best suited to them. Where I fully agree with her is in the fact that our educational system is organized stupidly and actually most children learn in spite of it rather than because of it.

    The reasons for this are to me two fold. First, the system is set up to advantage the elite (nobility). Second, the system is organized as if it were a factory for learning and fails to take into account that different children, learn and mature at different rates. Our system sets up unfair competition between children of similar ages, but different growth stages. It also has become infested with notions that bestow and award status, to the detriment of those who are not ready to earn those rewards and then find themselves debarred from being able to catch up.

    My educational guru is an Englishman name A.S. Neil, who wrote the seminal book “Summerhill” in the 50’s. He had set up the equivalent of an elementary school for supposed problem children. In his system he accounted for the differences in maturation and rather than impose the system on the child, let the child access the system when it was ready. He achieved notable success with these methods. This should be a model for our elementary schools and at some age, perhaps fourteen, the tests differentiating the available paths towards higher education should be given. Many in the educational field thought Neill to be just dotty,
    however, I believe he was prescient and indicated a viable path towards intelligent education.

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