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February 27, 2007

Jarheads Get Shaft at University of Illinois

Chief Illiniwek isn't the only one to get the boot from the University of Illinois...Marines who were promised MBA program scholarships were shunted aside. John Ruberry, in the first of a series of postings, has the details at Marthon Pundit.

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Posted by Pam Meister at 10:29 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0) | Education

I just read a blog by John Rubery at Marathon Pundit. One of the deans at Illinois calls his own faculty high-priced hookers. This is the same guy that shafted the veterans and called them jarheads. U of I has its own Don Imus! I wonder if the politically correct profs in Champaign will like being called hookers by one of their own?

Does anyone know whatever happened to that veteran scholarship program? I can't find it anywhere on U of I web sites. It seems to have disappeared.

Posted by: Jim Bonderman at May 25, 2007 10:10 PM


I got my BA and law degree from U of I and work in Springfield and Chicago. I heard about this veteran scholarship mess at an alumni event from my boss, also a U of I alum, who is working on legislation to fix the Illinois Veteran Grant Program. He asked me to check it out, so I got a copy of the lawsuit filed against U of I and its response at the Court of Claims.

This is sick stuff and a lot deeper than a simple lawsuit.

U of I filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and lost. The case is going to Court in Chicago a month from now. No matter who wins and loses, it shows a dark side of U of I that disturbs me more than the Chief issue, since this involves veterans who gave years of their life in service to our country. Initially, I was doubtful about the story since I knew most of the principals involved from fundraising and alumni events. Basically, U of I just denied everything through their press people, blamed others and proclaimed their innocence. Blanket denials and blame-shifting are usually good signs that something is wrong. Then I read the lawsuit, the exhibits in the case and U of Is response. U of I what in the WORLD were you thinking?

Included in the lawsuit are 20 actual emails, letters and documents authored by senior U of I officials that show intentional discrimination against veterans in favor of non-veterans and a juvenile scheme to renege on a promise. Stories in the Associated Press, Daily Illini and blogs documented events about 90 percent right, but the level of detailed planning that devised the discrimination really surprised me. U of I denies wrongdoing, of course, but its going to be hard for them to run away from hard evidence found in their own emails, letters and documents that they put in black and white.

Why U of I documented their scheme in writing is beyond stupid and shows a dark side I didnt know existed. One of the lawsuits exhibits shows an email from College of Business Dean, Avijit Ghosh, in which he argues to cut back the 110 scholarships because of reduced cash flow (reimbursement) from the Illinois Veteran Grant program. Others show Ghosh and others crunching numbers in a scheme to get rid of veterans by shortening admissions deadlines AFTER veterans applied and were admitted. But it gets worse. After kicking the veterans out and telling other veterans that the program was full, they recruited non-veterans to take their place. Rather than take responsibility for their actions, they forged the signature of the guy Ghosh fired, Robert VanderHooning, on a letter written by Associate Dean Larry DeBrock to kick veterans out.

Several exhibits in the lawsuit show a bungled coverup by senior U of I officials, including Associate Dean Larry DeBrock, David Ikenberry, UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning and, most shocking of all, President Joseph White. How UIC got involved in this mess is hard to understand since VanderHooning worked for the Champaign campus.

Political coverups can be dangerous. My fear for U of I is that eventually the facts of this mess will shine an uncomfortable light on President White, Manning, Ghosh and others and tarnish U of I as an institution. For example, how can President White explain why, after receiving a strongly-worded protest letter from US Congressman Emanuel, he asked UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning, not UIUC Chancellor Richard Herman, to hear VanderHoonings ethics complaint? How can White explain why he scheduled a meeting with VanderHooning after Mannings interview, then cancelled it, but first gave a heads up to his friend Ghosh who not only was VanderHoonings boss but led the Presidential Hiring Committee that got White his $450,000 job. U of I has a Chief Ethics Officer and a process to investigate ethics problems, but White circumvented the universitys own procedures and tipped off his friend. Thats an odd procedure for an ethics investigation and a conflict of interest if I ever saw one.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs lawyer is Michael Shakman, best known as an anti-corruption attorney who took on Daley I and Daley II over patronage hiring practices and won a victory for the politically unconnected. I wonder who Shakman has in his sights now.

Here is some advice for all you knuckleheads at U of I with Ph.D. degrees:

1 Fire your lawyer. This case should never have seen the light of day. Discrimination against veterans has no upside.
2 Fire the morons responsible for creating this mess and covering it up. Do it publicly and loud.
3 Dont leave paper trails of wrongdoing. Most people disagree with the war but support the troops and the veterans.
4 Next time you screw up, just apologize, face the music quickly, and promise to do better. People forgive honest mistakes, not fraud and coverups.
5 Apologize to the veterans and reinstate the scholarship program. If you do insist on screwing veterans again for some insane reason, for gods sake, do NOT put it in writing.

The documents in this case can be obtained from Court of Claims, 630 S. College Street, Springfield, IL 62704. The case number is 07 CC 1856. If you want to understand the kind of institutional bias and discrimination that veterans face in real life, this is a textbook case. But go read for yourself and make up your own mind.

Posted by: Jeff at August 10, 2007 05:20 PM

Blogmester, the Dean at U of I who cut back the veterans scholarship is the same one that counted GMAT test scores for people that applied but didnt attend U of I in order to inflate his programs reputation. He is a very strange person and conflicted on several levels. Cheating appears to be one of his strengths.

U of I has told so many different stories to their own University newspaper, the Daily Illini, Associated Press and ABC News its just hard to keep up. I just read on another blog that U of I wrote the Lt. Governor a different story yet. Wonder how that letter went public!

Ghosh is on unpaid leave from University of Illinois now. They guy he fired took him to court and is trying to get the vet scholarship program restored and get his job back. There are interesting implications since the U of I scholarship program was funded in large part by the Illinois Veteran Grant, an entitlement program funded by taxpayers, just like U of I is funded by taxpayers. HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Greedy dastards, I say.

There are accusations of changing admissions standards after vets applied, kicking vets out and putting civilians in their place, forged signatures, a coverup by the new President (a friend of Ghosh who helped get him hired a year ago) and a whole bucket of sh*t that usually happens in coverups.

I went to U of I and 2 of my kids did too. I just hope theres no truth to any of this mess or somebodys going to have some explaining to do because mistreating vets aint right.

Posted by: AnthonyK at August 23, 2007 02:59 PM

For anyone interested this case about the jarheads is being heard at the James Thompson Center Wednesday, September 12, 10 AM in Room 10-400. It will last an hour.

It will be interesting to see if Rod backs the vets or not since the judges are appointed by him.

Posted by: Jeff Restin at September 8, 2007 05:58 PM

This needs to get the attention of the Attorney General investigating this mess or the court hearing the veterans case.

Great recent post by Marathon Pundit on the U of I vet scholarship scam - marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html#3779337378901194631

How does Avijit Ghosh disgraced, discredited and interviewing for a job at Western Michigan University get a job for $339,000 working for U of I as a Vice President of Technology when his degree is in GEOGRAPHY? He led the Committee that got Joe White his job. Maybe Ghosh is a distant relative of Todd Stroger or Gov. Rod? I cant believe it - $339,000! Plus benefits. Great job for a crook and a con man.

MP did a piece on David Ikenberry a while back. He is the son of former U of I President Stan Ikenberry. He got promoted, too. Now hes the Associate Dean for Executive Education in charge of the very program he helped discriminate against vets. Love one of the quotes in MPs reporting on this from an email Ikenberry wrote.

... one bullet I would add is to look at the cases in the "civilian pipeline" and break them down into various categories from hot prospects (because of...) to new, undeveloped prospects The logic here is to 1) give us a better appreciation for what the civilian challenge really is at this point in order to produce a class of 60.... This analysis of civilians in the pipeline clearly takes a backseat to solving the immediate issue of how to shrink down the number of quick admits (i.e., veterans).

Of course Ikenberry denied he knew anything about the scam. I hope this scam artist gets his BALCO moment of truth soon.

Posted by: Jim Idlewood at November 16, 2007 04:07 PM

What a scam. Hope these morons get a perp walk straight to jail. This blatant discrimination should not be perpetrated on veterans that served our country.

Posted by: Dave Kantor at November 17, 2007 06:14 PM

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn just blasted the University of Illinois over the veteran scholarship scam in Champaign. See the Associated Press article, Illinois Lt. Governor Quinn Wants Count of Veterans Scholarships at University of Illinois (http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2007/11/28/news/state/doc474d003a95028280427544.txt). Quinns letter is addressed to U of I President Joseph White, Chancellor Richard Herman and the Board of Trustees.

Quinn is right. U of I promised 110 full-ride scholarships last year to vets and active duty soldiers returning from the war. Last year, U of I delivered 35-40 after getting caught by Quinn and US Congressman Rahm Emanuel cutting it to 15. This year, not a surprise, the number went down further to 15 veterans. Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General has been investigating U of I for over a year.

One of the internal documents uncovered an email Dean Avijit Ghosh explaining his reason for the cutback: we need to make sure that we will have some additional cash flow from the additional students so we need to think about how the veterans scholarship will affect our cash flow. You cannot necessarily count on IVG (Illinois Veteran Grant) money at the same rate as last year.

The ugly inside story is how U of I schemed to discriminate against veterans and soldiers. They shortened admissions deadlines retroactively for vets already accepted to kick them out. U of I looked at the admissions database, forged an employees signature on a Dear Jarhead letter and blamed veterans for not finishing letters of recommendation, transcripts and paying a deposit on time. The creepy part is how U of I promised the vets they could still apply for a spot in the class, but did not mention that 90 students were already accepted for a class size reduced to 60. The new rules only applied to vets, not civilians without vet benefit funding, and U of I recruited more civilians for six weeks after telling vets the class was full.

Not Champaigns finest hour.

Posted by: Richard Block at December 2, 2007 03:47 PM

If you have to resort to forging someones signature on a letter that discriminates against people due to their military status, then that pretty much sums up the mindset at University of Illinois College of Business. The fact that everybody knew but nobody did anything Joe White, Richard Herman or the Board of Trustees raises serious ethical questions about University of Illinois. I bet this is happening in undergraduate admissions as well.

Posted by: Terrence at December 14, 2007 01:22 PM

University of Illinois gets a steroid asterisk for cheating in my book.

What a shocking reminder of the trickle-down effect of corruption, coverup and political kickbacks in our state. Call soldiers jarheads and faculty high-priced hookers. Falsify admissions records, forge signatures on letters and lie to a US Congressman and Lt. Governor about it. I wonder who wont have a chair when the music stops after the Inspector General and Lt. Gov. Quinn finish their investigation.

Its one thing for student to cheat. You dont expect grown up administrators running a university to cheat. Guess a PhD doesnt make you honest or smart. It will be very interesting to see when the Inspector General and Quinn report come out who knew about the discrimination scheme, when they knew and why they did nothing about it.

Posted by: Geoge at December 20, 2007 02:43 PM

This military scholarship program was yanked. It's history. Now the top "scholarship" is only 40% - and thats with IVG which is supposed to pay everything.

Hey these crooks steal TV in the daylight. They are pretty brazen about their bait and switch.

Actually its kind of funny to see how a world class school really operates in the real world.

Posted by: Dan at January 12, 2008 04:16 PM

Wow this is interesting. All of University of Illinois internal files on the military scholarship fraud are available on the internet now that show exactly what happened in their own words before the mess went public. I heard this came from someone at the Alumni Association in Champaign.

There are about 150 documents, letters and emails from U of I to U of I that show how Avijit Ghosh and henchmen Larry DeBrock and David Ikenberry tried to slither out of a scholarship commitment to veterans by changing admissions standards AFTER veterans applied. They even forged the signature of the guy they fired to take the fall for them.

Everything is shown through U of Is own emails, letters, pictures and documents in University of Illinois own words.

The top PR person at University of Illinois got caught lying with her own emails to the Daily Illini. She blasted the Daily Illini for bad reporting, but now her own emails show what a blowhard she is.

What a bad lesson to students who are told to play by the rules.

Worst of all the Board of Trustees knew about it and did absolutely nothing. Who is the Board protecting? This should be required reading for any college ethics class. Maybe the veterans in this state will get fair treatment after all is said and done. Wouldnt that be just sweet as pie? These are the files I downloaded.

http://uploadline.com/files/1617608/Vets_Education_and_U_of_I.pdf.html - dossier 80 pages as a pdf file
http://uploadline.com/files/4750433/veterans_lawsuit_30_exhibits.pdf.html - vet lawsuit (includes actual documents from U of I)
http://uploadline.com/files/9239834/u_of_i_lawsuit_response.pdf.html - u of I lawsuit response (read if you cant sleep)
http://uploadline.com/files/4330813/Quinn_letter_Nov_20_2007.jpg.html - protest letter from Lt. Governor (read if you are still looking for corroboration of what went wrong)

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