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U. of Illinois president resigns after controversy

University of Illinois President B. Joseph White, who has been at the center of an admissions scandal, has resigned.
Illinois Admissions White
B. Joseph White Seth Perlman / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

University of Illinois President B. Joseph White, who has been at the center of an admissions scandal, has resigned.

White said Wednesday that he's given his letter of resignation to Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the university's board of trustees.

White has been under fire since this summer over reports that the university admitted politically connected students over more qualified ones at its Champaign-Urbana campus.

Gov. Pat Quinn had said earlier he expected White to resign. The governor expects trustees to name an interim president and search for a permanent replacement.

"This is totally voluntary," Quinn said. "It's time for our university to continue to move on.

"I think that's why Joe White is taking the action he takes. It's designed to, I think, make sure that everyone in our state, in our country, our whole world knows that the university of Illinois and its excellent reputation and its scholarship will continue."

White did not immediately return calls or e-mails from The Associated Press seeking comment. University spokesman Tom Hardy declined comment.

White and Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Richard Herman have been at the center of the admissions scandal.

Faculty wanted ousters
Last week, the University of Illinois Faculty Senate approved a resolution calling for both to be replaced.

Herman did not immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment.

News reports first surfaced in May that politically connected applicants for spots at the university's flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign were given special attention and tracked through a list known as Category I. Those reports and documents later released by the university showed that some of those connected applicants were admitted over more qualified ones.

Among the e-mails was one from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich backing an applicant. White forwarded the e-mail to Herman. That applicant, initially denied admission but later accepted, turned out to be a relative of Tony Rezko, the convicted political influence peddler who is a key figure in the federal government's investigation of Blagojevich.

White has said he didn't know at the time who Rezko was when he sent along the e-mail in 2005.

Trustees removed earlier
Six members of the university's board of trustees were replaced this summer over the admissions scandal.

Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the board and one of its newest members, said Wednesday that he hadn't spoken to White but wouldn't relish seeing him resign.

"I would not take any joy or pleasure in President White's resignation," he said. "I think it's a terrible toll this process has had on a lot of people."

White became university president in 2005. He came to Illinois from the University of Michigan, where he was dean of the business school.