The new school year begins August 20 at Western Illinois University -- less than two weeks from now. But there is still no contract in place for President Jack Thomas (see editor's note below for update).
Dr. Thomas has never signed a contract with WIU. Instead, he’s always been signed to Letters of Employment.
Members of the WIU Board of Trustees indicated during their meeting in June their desire to negotiate a contract for Thomas so they would have something more formal in place than the letters, which they said are akin to a handshake deal.
BoT members said they hoped to finalize a contract with Thomas by the end of that month. But June came and went, as did July, and there is still no contract.
Tri States Public Radio inquired about the contract in a recent email with university spokesperson Darcie Shinberger. She responded, “At this time there is not a meeting scheduled to discuss a Fiscal Year 19 contract.”
When TSPR followed up by asking if there is any indication why the matter has not been resolved, Shinberger checked with Western’s legal counsel, then replied, “This resolution may appear on the agenda for a meeting in the near future.”
After the June BoT meeting, Thomas said he was okay with the planned change from letters to a contract.
“When you look at most presidents in our state, they have a contract. And they every so often go back and update that contract. So I look forward to it,” he said.
Thomas is in his eighth year as WIU president.
Since this story was reported, the WIU administration contacted TSPR with this statement:
“Dr. Thomas does indeed have a signed contract in place. In 2011, Dr. Thomas signed an employment offer letter (which serves as an employee's contract) when he was named president and his terms of employment remain as outlined in the original letter/contract.
“The letter he signed upon accepting the presidency remains in effect. The letter of employment and contract are one in the same. We do not believe this was made clear, and apologize for not catching this earlier, and for not making sure this was clear. “