Under Fire, Western Illinois University President Tenders Resignation
Western Illinois University’s president has tendered his resignation following criticism from various sources over his decision to terminate a top university executive.
President Jack Thomas, who served the university for eight years, announced his resignation on Friday to the Board of Trustees, who were scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss the terms of his contract and review his performance.
Brad Bainter, the former vice president for advancement and public services, was fired last month after he declined to resign. According to Quad-City Times, the university foundation’s executive committee wrote a letter to the Trustees, calling for a change in leadership while citing Bainter’s termination as evidence of a “toxic work environment throughout the university.”
“During my tenure, the University has been challenged in unprecedented ways, and we have weathered recent storms,” Thomas said in a statement.
Over the last few years, the university has battled to improve its enrollment numbers and struggled to place the campus on sound financial footing. Since 2010, the school’s enrollment numbers dropped from 12,585 to 8,502 in 2018. The university also eliminated four majors including African American Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Women’s Studies.
Earlier this year, the university laid off 132 employees including two administrative positions, 10 academic support personnel, 27 faculty members and 81 civil service workers.
“Without a doubt, I have had to make some difficult decisions – including ones that have sometimes been very unpopular, but nevertheless were always made with the best interests of the overall University’s future at heart,” Thomas said in a letter to the university community.
“These decisions were made necessary due to a decade of decreased state appropriations, the two-year, unprecedented statewide budget impasse, and enrollment decline due to the large outmigration of high school students from the state of Illinois, demographic shifts in the state, population decline in the region that we serve, and challenges with economic development.”
In April, New England-based Hellenic College Holy Cross president Christopher Metropulos also tendered his resignation over the academic and financial stability of the college.