After a year of criticism of her leadership and spending practices, the beleaguered president of Chicago State University has told her colleagues she plans to step down.
Elnora Daniel will leave the post on June 30, the day her contract is set to expire, but she will continue to collect her $241,025 salary and other benefits until June 30, 2009, as an “educational leave” clause in her contract allows.
Daniel announced her departure in an e-mail to faculty and staff at the 7,000-student South Side university, which serves more African-American students than any other university in the state.
Daniel had been asking Chicago State’s board of trustees since at least June to extend her contract, but the board never acted on her requests.
Her contract requires that she give the board “reasonable notice” of her intention to seek a paid leave, which becomes an option if her contract is not renewed, according to the agreement.
Daniel’s announcement comes as federal authorities are set to audit the university’s spending on a government-funded project in west Africa, the subject of a recent Tribune investigation.
“It is with both sadness and a great deal of pride that I leave the university,” Daniel wrote in her e-mail, obtained by the Chicago Tribune. She wrote the decision was difficult, but that “all good things must inevitably come to an end.”
Daniel, 66, has been president of Chicago State for the last decade.
Last year, a state audit questioned dozens of expenditures by the university, saying in most cases there was little or no documentation to justify the spending. The audit revealed “leadership seminars” on Caribbean cruises for the university president, just a year apart. Two plane tickets upgraded to first class for an extra $1,500. A $995 meal tab that covered $139 worth of alcohol and a 28 percent tip.
She later reimbursed the university $8,654.
Daniel also has been criticized for the no-bid purchase by Chicago State of two copy machines for more than $250,000.
The machines were purchased from A & W Group, a company owned by Michael Vernon Warren, then the university’s director of publications and copy services, according to a published report.
Chicago State bought the copiers and paper with grant funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development. They were to be used to print textbooks for schoolchildren in Ghana.
“There is a cloud that has developed in terms of the financial integrity of the school that we have to remove,” Chicago State trustee Rev. Leon Finney said Wednesday. “Many people think a tree starts dying from its roots. It doesn’t. It starts dying from the top.”
Founded in 1867 as a teacher training school, Chicago State moved to its current location in 1972.
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