March 6, 2007

U of I falls short providing MBA scholarships above and beyond state grants for vets

Note: The following is a guest post by esteemed former fellow blogger "Huck Finn".

The University of Illinois Executive MBA program is breaking a promise of scholarships to Illinois vets and squandering an opportunity to build the premier EMBA program in the state. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Exeutive MBA (EMBA) program is in a building across the street from the Sears Tower in Chicago. Students meet every other Friday and Saturday while they continue to work full time elsewhere and bring about 10 years of professional experience to the classroom.

The UIUC EMBA program is so overshadowed by Northwestern and U of Chicago's very highly-regarded MBA programs that I had no idea the program even existed until April 28th, 2006 when, during a Pentagon briefing, SECDEF Rumsfeld announced that the program would offer full scholarships to Illinois vets. The Illinois Veterans Grant program (IVG) provides returning Illinois vets with the equivalent of 4 years of tuition and fees at Illinois state schools. Since the UIUC's 21-month program is $72,000 (including a trip to China as part of the program) it exceeds the max amount the IVG will pay. The U of I had promised 110 scholarships to cover what remained after the IVG was paid out.

Here's a story from CS Monitor.

What a great deal, I thought. So I asked for some info and received a great package and a letter from Robert van der Hooning, the Assistant Dean. I called him one afternoon just to see if I got the story right and see if I was the kind of person he'd be interested in admitting to the program. It was true, 110 scholarships offered for the 2006-2007 academic year and expected to continue. He was building the program, and he envisioned that it would quickly become one of the best in the county. Since he was previously at Kellogg, I figured he knew how to make that happen. So, I put that idea in my hip pocket, and I've told countless other Illinois vets about it.

About a month ago, I was a guest at an event at Naval Station Great Lakes. I spoke with a young lieutenant who was one of our hosts. He told me that he planned to get out of the Navy at the end of his commitment, and I asked what his plans were when he left service. He told me he was a student at the UIUC EMBA program and he planned to stay in the Chicago area and look for work, since that's where he grew up. I was excited to meet someone who was in the program and asked him all about it. He enjoyed the academics and the others in his cohort, but he explained that there was a big stink with the veteran's scholarships for program and Mr. van der Hooning had left as a result. After hearing about it, I was shocked that such a great deal for vets was being cut at such an early point; and I was disappointed personally since Mr. van der Hooning and I had talked on the phone about what a great program he planned to build. I told him that he was lucky to be in the program and wished him the best of luck on his transition.

Since then, I've found out much more about the "stink" from some other vets that applied......and it is pungent! What at the surface could easily sound like a "misunderstanding" of expectations is clearly a case of broken promises. The best reporting on all of it comes from John Ruberry, who writes Marathon Pundit. John's post tells about the dirty details of how U of Illinois administrators went back on promises of scholarships and admissions, and how Mr. van der Hooning fought to do what was right...and lost his job.

You can read about it here.

Every part of it matches the stories I've heard from others, who all very clearly understood the process and what was being offered to them. Some chose to go elsewhere and some have fought back.

15 Comments:

At 3/07/2007 8:56 AM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

Since I wrote this story for TID, the Daily Illini has pubished a two-part series:

Part I: Investigative Report: MBA admissions process questioned

Part II: Scholarships Fall Short

A search of the Daily Illini archives also shows the April 25, 2006 story they originally published about the scholarships:

Scholarships to recognize, aid veterans

 
At 3/07/2007 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure you'll get much sympathy because the state won't kick in for vets to study for advanced MBA degrees in China.

For God's sake, I wish people got those sorts of benefits for their normal jobs.

It's not enough to get a free MBA degree? Now it's a scandal if they don't provide money for study in China? Wow.

Talk about gold-plated benefits.

 
At 3/07/2007 8:51 PM, Blogger Milton said...

These state colleges with their large fancy campuses and over budgets sports teams. You know who cares about the mascots, get rid of the teams and we would not be having these problems. My grand daughters tell me her public high schools now have a foundations shaking down parents.

Illinois Universities have raised the tuitions year after year. Private colleges are almost affordable as a state U.

A MBA from a State U or MBA from University of Chicago or North Western, what is going to get you through doors?

 
At 5/25/2007 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's an interesting article that was just published about this issue. One of the key people in the scandal is QUOTED calling other College of Business faculty high-priced hookers. It's the 3rd story under http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/ and it's pretty clear that U of I sold out the veterans for money. This is a really interesting read.

"A shocking and highly disturbing email uncovered by Marathon Pundit paints a starkly different picture of the real environment and Imus language used by senior administrators at the College. Just after the veteran scholarship program was launched, Associate Dean Larry DeBrock, who was responsible for academic affairs and faculty staffing, referred to his own colleagues in email as "hookers" and "high-priced hookers" while personally agreeing to teach additional classes in Chicago if he was paid well enough.

DeBrock writes:

So, if you are telling folks they need to drive 3.5 hours… teach 3 hours, and drive back 3.5 hours, they need (to be) compensated. And your 37.5 is nice compensation. But, high priced hookers are still hookers. But, BUT, B U T , if you bring in 70 students and the college nets 3.5 million, the hookers are praised as soldiers. They are cheered by smiling faculty waving UIUC flags lining the roadside while they ride back into town.

Perhaps Imus has a brother in Champaign--Larry DeBrock.

If the asociate dean for academic affairs – the one who authored the letter to rescind veterans' admission to the MBA program and forged van der Hooning’s signature last Memorial Day – writes about his own colleagues as "high priced hookers," how much of a stretch is it to imagine he would refer to veterans as "jarheads?"

I have one question for Professor DeBrock: How about lining the streets and waving US flags for our soldiers and veterans instead on Memorial Day."

Freakin amazing!

 
At 6/15/2007 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should read the second Marathon Pundit story which lays out actual emails and documents as a followup to the first story.
http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_archive.html#748390460444581746.

Man, this is bad comic book stuff. Basically this second story refutes just about everything Illinois said about the vet scholarship program with internal emails and documents from the key people involved at U of I. The current Director of the EMBA program, Dave Ikenberry, denied knowledge or involvement, but go read his own email quoted in this article that shows his feelings about vets in the program and his plan to get them out while recruiting more non-vets. This guy just flat out lied.

This is very disturbing because the scholarship was based in large part on the Illinois Veteran Grant program which gives vets the right to get an education paid for by the state after active duty. I don’t think any school has the right to refuse admission to qualified vets just because the program isn’t funded 100%. That’s what the statute says, anyway.

Marathon Pundit shows how statements made by Illinois PR machine and Ghosh are refuted with their own emails to news organizations like ABC and politicians who complained. Illinois bragged they admitted 60-70 vets under the scholarship program to ABC and the Lt. Governor, when public pressure was on them, but then they told the Daily Illini and AP reporter that the number was only 40 or so.

The story also contains an embarrassing letter from Ghosh to Lt. Governor Quinn expressing shock and disbelief that veterans were complaining about being denied access to the program. What’s funny, or sad depending on your point of view, is that the story contains another email from a veteran who Ghosh and his merry band of idiots were kicking out again at the same time he wrote the Lt. Governor. The blogger shows actual emails and letters, not just opinions. Ghosh can’t put the blame on anyone else for this because he had already fired the Director by this time.

 
At 8/10/2007 6:00 PM, Anonymous Jeff and Jim from Springfield said...

U OF I LOSES ROUND #1 IN VETERAN SCHOLARSHIP SCANDAL – CASE GOING TO COURT

I got my BA and law degree from U of I and work in Springfield and Chicago. I heard about this veteran scholarship mess at an alumni event from my boss, also a U of I alum, who is working on legislation to fix the Illinois Veteran Grant Program. He asked me to check it out, so I got a copy of the lawsuit filed against U of I and its response at the Court of Claims.

This is sick stuff and a lot deeper than a simple lawsuit.

U of I filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and lost. The case is going to Court in Chicago a month from now. No matter who wins and loses, it shows a dark side of U of I that disturbs me more than the Chief issue, since this involves veterans who gave years of their life in service to our country. Initially, I was doubtful about the story since I knew most of the principals involved from fundraising and alumni events. Basically, U of I just denied everything through their press people, blamed others and proclaimed their innocence. Blanket denials and blame-shifting are usually good signs that something is wrong. Then I read the lawsuit, the exhibits in the case and U of I’s response. U of I – what in the WORLD were you thinking?

Included in the lawsuit are 20 actual emails, letters and documents authored by senior U of I officials that show intentional discrimination against veterans in favor of non-veterans and a juvenile scheme to renege on a promise. Stories in the Associated Press, Daily Illini and blogs documented events about 90 percent right, but the level of detailed planning that devised the discrimination really surprised me. U of I denies wrongdoing, of course, but it’s going to be hard for them to run away from hard evidence found in their own emails, letters and documents that they put in black and white.

Why U of I documented their scheme in writing is beyond stupid and shows a dark side I didn’t know existed. One of the lawsuit’s exhibits shows an email from College of Business Dean, Avijit Ghosh, in which he argues to cut back the 110 scholarships because of reduced cash flow (reimbursement) from the Illinois Veteran Grant program. Others show Ghosh and others crunching numbers in a scheme to get rid of veterans by shortening admissions deadlines AFTER veterans applied and were admitted. But it gets worse. After kicking the veterans out and telling other veterans that the program was full, they recruited non-veterans to take their place. Rather than take responsibility for their actions, they forged the signature of the guy Ghosh fired, Robert VanderHooning, on a letter written by Associate Dean Larry DeBrock to kick veterans out.

Several exhibits in the lawsuit show a bungled coverup by senior U of I officials, including Associate Dean Larry DeBrock, David Ikenberry, UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning and, most shocking of all, President Joseph White. How UIC got involved in this mess is hard to understand since VanderHooning worked for the Champaign campus.

Political coverups can be dangerous. My fear for U of I is that eventually the facts of this mess will shine an uncomfortable light on President White, Manning, Ghosh and others and tarnish U of I as an institution. For example, how can President White explain why, after receiving a strongly-worded protest letter from US Congressman Emanuel, he asked UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning, not UIUC Chancellor Richard Herman, to hear VanderHooning’s ethics complaint? How can White explain why he scheduled a meeting with VanderHooning after Manning’s interview, then cancelled it, but first gave a heads up to his friend Ghosh who not only was VanderHooning’s boss but led the Presidential Search Committee that got White his $450,000 job. U of I has a Chief Ethics Officer and a process to investigate ethics problems, but White circumvented the university’s own procedures and tipped off his friend. That’s an odd procedure for an ethics investigation and a conflict of interest if I ever saw one.

 
At 8/10/2007 6:01 PM, Anonymous Jeff and Jim from Springfield said...

U OF I LOSES ROUND #1 IN VETERAN SCHOLARSHIP SCANDAL – CASE GOING TO COURT

I got my BA and law degree from U of I and work in Springfield and Chicago. I heard about this veteran scholarship mess at an alumni event from my boss, also a U of I alum, who is working on legislation to fix the Illinois Veteran Grant Program. He asked me to check it out, so I got a copy of the lawsuit filed against U of I and its response at the Court of Claims.

This is sick stuff and a lot deeper than a simple lawsuit.

U of I filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and lost. The case is going to Court in Chicago a month from now. No matter who wins and loses, it shows a dark side of U of I that disturbs me more than the Chief issue, since this involves veterans who gave years of their life in service to our country. Initially, I was doubtful about the story since I knew most of the principals involved from fundraising and alumni events. Basically, U of I just denied everything through their press people, blamed others and proclaimed their innocence. Blanket denials and blame-shifting are usually good signs that something is wrong. Then I read the lawsuit, the exhibits in the case and U of I’s response. U of I – what in the WORLD were you thinking?

Included in the lawsuit are 20 actual emails, letters and documents authored by senior U of I officials that show intentional discrimination against veterans in favor of non-veterans and a juvenile scheme to renege on a promise. Stories in the Associated Press, Daily Illini and blogs documented events about 90 percent right, but the level of detailed planning that devised the discrimination really surprised me. U of I denies wrongdoing, of course, but it’s going to be hard for them to run away from hard evidence found in their own emails, letters and documents that they put in black and white.

Why U of I documented their scheme in writing is beyond stupid and shows a dark side I didn’t know existed. One of the lawsuit’s exhibits shows an email from College of Business Dean, Avijit Ghosh, in which he argues to cut back the 110 scholarships because of reduced cash flow (reimbursement) from the Illinois Veteran Grant program. Others show Ghosh and others crunching numbers in a scheme to get rid of veterans by shortening admissions deadlines AFTER veterans applied and were admitted. But it gets worse. After kicking the veterans out and telling other veterans that the program was full, they recruited non-veterans to take their place. Rather than take responsibility for their actions, they forged the signature of the guy Ghosh fired, Robert VanderHooning, on a letter written by Associate Dean Larry DeBrock to kick veterans out.

Several exhibits in the lawsuit show a bungled coverup by senior U of I officials, including Associate Dean Larry DeBrock, David Ikenberry, UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning and, most shocking of all, President Joseph White. How UIC got involved in this mess is hard to understand since VanderHooning worked for the Champaign campus.

Political coverups can be dangerous. My fear for U of I is that eventually the facts of this mess will shine an uncomfortable light on President White, Manning, Ghosh and others and tarnish U of I as an institution. For example, how can President White explain why, after receiving a strongly-worded protest letter from US Congressman Emanuel, he asked UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning, not UIUC Chancellor Richard Herman, to hear VanderHooning’s ethics complaint? How can White explain why he scheduled a meeting with VanderHooning after Manning’s interview, then cancelled it, but first gave a heads up to his friend Ghosh who not only was VanderHooning’s boss but led the Presidential Search Committee that got White his $450,000 job. U of I has a Chief Ethics Officer and a process to investigate ethics problems, but White circumvented the university’s own procedures and tipped off his friend. That’s an odd procedure for an ethics investigation and a conflict of interest if I ever saw one.

 
At 8/10/2007 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

U of I lost the first round in court on this case. They tried to get it dismissed, but the court in Springfield said Nyet! Trial starts in September. This was posted recently at Rogers Park Bench. The coverup goes all the way up to the President of U of I Joe White, UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning and other higher ups. Interesting read:

http://rogersparkbench.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-university-of-illinois-is-shafting.html#comment-1451753950951836079

 
At 8/23/2007 2:42 PM, Anonymous TedK said...

I�ve read the Daily Illini articles, press release by Lt. Governor Quinn, various blogs and a rebuttal by public relations posted on the College�s web site. They give so many different explanations for why they are not honoring their commitment but none of it makes a lick of sense to me.

It�s hard for me to understand why U of I changed their mind when the money to fund this comes mostly from Joe and Mary Taxpayer through the Illinois Veteran Grant. This is a state law, a benefit program for Illinois veterans, right? Veterans from Illinois get this benefit no questions asked if they qualify for a degree program at state schools. My son has served 8 years on active duty and has lived in Illinois his whole life. U of I is a state school. It receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the State of Illinois in general funding. It receives additional Federal funding for research. It is one of the schools listed in the Illinois Veteran Grant Program. What am I missing?

 
At 8/23/2007 3:07 PM, Anonymous LarryD said...

I wonder what Richard Herman at UI Champaign has to say about why his boss used his counterpart at UIC to investigate this mess? Somebody’s protecting somebody. UIC had NOTHING to do with this! This is all Champaign’s mess.

The previous post is right – Ghosh found White his new job. Here’s the link from the local newspaper - http://www.news-gazette.com/special/answerbook2004/index.cfm?page=story&number=5§ion=2 .

Hey its payback time, what would you expect but a little back scratching between pals?

 
At 11/09/2007 5:02 PM, Anonymous Dan said...

According to the Champaign News-Gazette, Avijit Ghosh, the disgraced former dean of the College of Business at University of Illinois in Champaign, got a new job at U of I courtesy of his old friend Joseph White. Ghosh headed up the presidential search committee that got White his job as President of U of I. This is not a Starbucks barista salary – Ghosh gets 339 thousand bucks per year – a decent return on investment for masterminding the veteran scholarship scandal and betraying the public trust. The new job Ghosh gets lets him run technology, economic development and a venture capital company for Springfield, UIC and Champaign campuses. Not a bad gig for someone with a degree in GEOGRAPHY. Sort of like nominating a plumber to run Citibank.

Give me a double shot corruption espresso this morning. On second thought, maybe President White should recommend Ghosh for a patronage job in the 11th ward. Ghosh has the skills.

The timing could not be better for Ghosh, who has been interviewing without success for jobs around the world. He recently interviewed at Western Michigan University, did not get it, and went to India while the Illinois Inspector General continued its investigation of discrimination against veterans. Good thing Ghosh landed in India, too, since those jarheads Ghosh does not think are smart enough for University of Illinois do not vacation in India very often.

Ghosh is fortunate to get 339K of taxpayer-funded salary, but I doubt luck had much to do with it. It pays to have friends in high places like University of Illinois President Joseph White who got help from Ghosh when he headed up the presidential search committee. So while Ghosh continues interviewing for jobs outside University of Illinois, it is comforting for Illinois taxpayers to know that Joseph White subscribes to the Daley-Stroger-Ryan rules of political patronage. Loyalty has its rewards. We should all be so lucky.

Discriminate against veterans, rig admissions standards to kick them out, get caught, and then find a new job courtesy of a friend you helped get a job. Maybe the Inspector General should give President White a call next.

What a priceless lesson in ethics from the ivory tower.

 
At 11/16/2007 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you hear about the $50,000 hush money payoff offer by University of Illinois about the veteran scholarship scandal? That could explain why the Attorney General is still going after U of I a full year after this story broke into the open.

The story is over at Marathon Pundit’s blog in the last article on this story:

Broken promises: How "jarheads" got shunted aside at the University of Illinois: A Marathon Pundit series

Marathon Pundit Exclusive: What happened behind the scenes of the University of Illinois veteran scholarship scandal

University of Illinois: "Hookers are Praised as Soldiers" –Marathon Pundit's Third Investigative Report

University of Illinois military scholarships scandal update

Exclusive: Van der Hooning, and Illinois vets, get a hearing at the Court of Claims

Central figure in military scholarships scandal lands new U of I job

 
At 12/02/2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Richard B said...

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn just blasted the University of Illinois over the veteran scholarship scam in Champaign. See the Associated Press’ article, “Illinois Lt. Governor Quinn Wants Count of Veterans Scholarships at University of Illinois (http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2007/11/28/news/state/doc474d003a95028280427544.txt). Quinn’s letter is addressed to U of I President Joseph White, Chancellor Richard Herman and the Board of Trustees.

Quinn is right. U of I promised 110 full-ride scholarships last year to vets and active duty soldiers returning from the war. Last year, U of I delivered 35-40 after getting caught by Quinn and US Congressman Rahm Emanuel cutting it to 15. This year, not a surprise, the number went down further to 15 veterans. Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General has been investigating U of I for over a year.

One of the internal documents uncovered an email Dean Avijit Ghosh explaining his reason for the cutback: “we need to make sure that we will have some additional cash flow from the additional students so we need to think about how the veterans scholarship will affect our cash flow. You cannot necessarily count on IVG (Illinois Veteran Grant) money at the same rate as last year.”

The ugly inside story is how U of I schemed to discriminate against veterans and soldiers. They shortened admissions deadlines retroactively for vets already accepted to kick them out. U of I looked at the admissions database, forged an employee’s signature on a “Dear Jarhead” letter and blamed veterans for not finishing letters of recommendation, transcripts and paying a deposit on time. The creepy part is how U of I promised the vets they could still apply for a spot in the class, but did not mention that 90 students were already accepted for a class size reduced to 60. The new rules only applied to vets, not civilians without vet benefit funding, and U of I recruited more civilians for six weeks after telling vets the class was full.

Not Champaign’s finest hour.

 
At 12/14/2007 12:51 PM, Anonymous Lawrence said...

Ah, the truth always comes out in the end. The smarter they are, the harder they fall. What extreme arrogance, Univ of Illinois!

If you have to resort to forging someone’s signature on a letter that discriminates against people due to their military status, then that pretty much sums up the mindset at University of Illinois College of Business. The fact that everybody knew but nobody did anything – Joe White, Richard Herman or the Board of Trustees – raises serious ethical questions about University of Illinois. I bet this is happening in undergraduate admissions as well.

 
At 12/20/2007 1:52 PM, Anonymous George S said...

University of Illinois gets a steroid asterisk for cheating in my book.

What a shocking reminder of the trickle-down effect of corruption, coverup and political kickbacks in our state. Call soldiers jarheads and faculty high-priced hookers. Falsify admissions records, forge signatures on letters and lie to a US Congressman and Lt. Governor about it. I wonder who won’t have a chair when the music stops after the Inspector General and Lt. Gov. Quinn finish their investigation.

It’s one thing for student to cheat. You don’t expect grown up administrators running a university to cheat. Guess a PhD doesn’t make you honest or smart. It will be very interesting to see when the Inspector General and Quinn report come out who knew about the discrimination scheme, when they knew and why they did nothing about it.

 

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