Regents’ confirmation delayed

By Ken Goze

Last-minute delays in the state senate might prevent three new Board of Regents members from being seated until the Regents’ March meeting.

Barbara Scheibling, James Myles and Niranjan Shah were appointed by Gov. Jim Edgar to six-year terms on the Regents, which govern NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University at Springfield.

Regents Chancellor’s Assistant Cheryl Peck said confirmation of the trio was set to take place in a Jan. 8 meeting of the Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Veterans Affairs.

However, the move was delayed due to the absence of Committee Chairman Sen. Richard F. Kelly, Jr., D-Oak Forest, who left for a personal emergency.

Peck said the confirmation might be considered when the legislature returns Wednesday, seating the members in time for the board’s Jan. 30 meeting at ISU.

Until confirmation, the appointees can attend Regents meetings but cannot vote, Peck said.

Further setbacks could keep the new members in limbo until the board’s next meeting in March.

“If they’re not confirmed, we’ll be in the same situation we were in December,” Peck said.

Peck said the outgoing Regents Clara Fitzpatrick, Jerome Bender and James Wright, whose terms officially expire this month, will retain their vote and serve until the new members are confirmed.

The outgoing members have 36 combined years of experience. All of the outgoing board members and their replacements are Democrats.

Peck said the new members already have begun to familiarize themselves with the board’s operation and will go through an orientation that includes meetings with Regents staff and Chancellor Roderick Groves.

It takes about a year’s cycle of eight meetings to get familiar with all the board’s usual operations, Peck said.

Peck said Groves will miss the outgoing Regent’s nearly four combined decades of experience but is looking forward to working with the new members.

“He is very pleased with the assignments and as he begins to acquaint himself with these people, he finds them to be very knowledgeable and eager to learn about and assume their duties,” Peck said.