CHICAGO — Board members tapped former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas Friday for an interim administrator post at Chicago State University, an appointment recommended by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The university’s Board of Trustees also named arts and sciences dean Rachel Lindsey as interim president.
Neither Vallas nor Lindsey commented after their appointments. However, the university released a plan prepared by Vallas that is designed to revitalize the school.
The 37-page plan acknowledges the university’s debt, low enrollment and graduation rates and past poor management. Among the immediate actions it advocates are the development of a long-term financial plan, implementing a student recruitment and retention policy, and flexibility in the use of funds received from the state.
Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis said in a statement that Rauner applauds the actions of the Chicago State board in appointing an interim leadership team she said will focus on getting the school back on track.
“We hope that this new team will make strong, decisive operating improvements in the coming days and then will create a strategic plan that puts CSU on a path to success,” she said.
Faculty members Kelly Harris and Garrard McClendon praised the moves after the meeting. Harris said the moves were “long overdue.”
Vallas was one of four trustees appointed to the board in January by Rauner, who made known his desire for Vallas to have a leadership role at the university. Vallas resigned from the board earlier this month to pursue the administrative position.
Vallas ran a losing campaign for Illinois governor after heading Chicago schools from 1995 to 2001. He later ran the public schools in Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Gov. Pat Quinn picked him to be his running mate in his losing bid for re-election in 2014.
Lindsay replaces President Cecil B. Lucy as interim president. Lucy was named to the post after the board approved a separation agreement with the school’s president Thomas Calhoun Jr. who resigned after nine months on the job that included a $600,000 payment.