Wingfield unwilling to deal with reality

It seems NIU never will escape the stigma created by Clyde Wingfield. It appears it might take twice as long for the former president to admit his wrongdoing.

The Auditor General’s forthcoming supplement to a recent report, which details misspending on the remodeling and renovation of the president’s house, incited Wingfield once again to deny responsibility for the abhorrent behavior practiced during his administration.

The report pointed out that Wingfield ordered his staff to ignore Illinois laws that require state approval before scheduling projects that exceed $20,000. Wingfield’s basic response to the allegation was that he was not yet in office when the renovations were ordered.

He claims that work on the house began in March, 1985, four months before he officially took office. Therefore, he claims, he cannot be held responsible for how the remodeling was handled. He called the charges made in the report “an absolute lie.”

While it is true that Wingfield was not officially president until July 1, 1985, it also is true that he was selected for the post on March 22 of that year. Therefore he was, for all intents and purposes, in a position of authority from that time on.

The former president made several visits to DeKalb and to his future home during the time between his selection as president and taking office. So, while he can claim he had no input on how the remodeling was handled, it can be questioned if this actually was the case.

It is safe to assume that if Wingfield, as president-elect, told staff members to do something, they did it. And because the Auditor General would have no reason to “lie” about Wingfield’s dealings, it is also safe to assume that Wingfield indeed gave the orders on purchases to remodel the house.

Unfortunately, Wingfield fails to see it this way. He repeatedly has refused to accept responsibility—even when confronted with overwhelming evidence against him.

The university, the Board of Regents and the Illinois legislature all grew tired of taking the heat for Wingfield’s games last year—a central cause leading to his forced resignation. But despite the removal, the former president didn’t get off too bad—he was allowed to stay at NIU and quietly teach at about the same salary he made as president.

It’s hard to believe someone who was treated so mildly in proportion to his iniquities persists to rock the boat by claiming innocence. He, of all people, should know by now that it’s better to own up to his mistakes than to defend himself in the face of them.