The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees endorsed the efforts of school President Jack Thomas by unanimously agreeing to extend his contract. Dr. Thomas will remain president at least through the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Reading from a prepared statement during the BoT's June 10 meeting, Chairperson Roger Clawson said, "The board enthusiastically commends President Thomas for the excellent leadership he has demonstrated through this difficult period. We support his strategic vision moving this university forward."
Clawson said Thomas would deserve a pay raise if money was available. Instead, Thomas asked the board to abstain from granting him a raise so his salary will remain $270,528.
After the meeting, Clawson told Tri States Public Radio that Thomas has stuck with it and worked through an unprecedented year in which the state did not provide any financial support until late April -- and then only gave most public universities about 30% of what they might have expected for the year.
"It's all new. No one provided a manual or a book on what you do when this happens to a university. So he's collaborated with his leadership team and we feel as board that right now he's doing a good job," said Clawson.
"Could he be doing better? Yes. (He) could be doing worse. For now, you'd say he's doing what's expected of him."
Clawson said the board would like Thomas and his team to be proactive rather than reactive in the year ahead and be prepared for any curve ball the state might throw at WIU and higher education.
Thomas thanked the board for its guidance and its confidence in him and his leadership team. Thomas became WIU president on July 1, 2011, and he said this has been the most challenging year of his presidency.
"I don't know of anywhere else in the country where public institutions have gone a whole year without a state appropriation," Thomas said.
He's sure more challenges await him and WIU, "...but not a year like we've had this past year."