After being away for a couple of weeks, I enjoyed reading all the comments from readers about a variety of issues I’ve written about including immigration and veterans concerns. Today, in response to the latest reader commentary, I will follow up on a post a wrote in August entitled, â€œFalse Promises to Veterans and a Possible Draftâ€.I want to thank reader Jerry R. for providing a link with more information about the University of Illinois veteran scholarship scam and wisely stating, â€œHow dumb can U of I be? Call veterans jarheads, change admissions deadlines for vets, recruit civilians to take their place, forge signatures on letters, lie to a Lt. Governor and US Congressman, and get exposed with their own internal documents and still continue to lie about it. Great lesson for all those students. In the real world, you go to jail for this.â€
Apparently Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has stepped up and asked the University of Illinois to prove they are providing business school scholarships promised to veterans and military members last year. While 110 scholarships were to be awarded for the executive MBA program, only 35 scholarships were awarded for the fall, 2006 school year. At the end of November, 2007, Quinn mailed a letter to university President Joseph White requesting a list of all scholarship recipients along with a list of applicants who were turned down.
Quinn states, â€œSince that promising beginning, I have been deeply disappointed by the University of Illinois’ failure to fulfill its promises to our veterans. Instead of honoring our pledge to our veterans, the University of Illinois has cut back on its promise.â€ Spokesperson for the University, Robin Kaler, had no definite response, stating the person of charge of scholarships was out of town and â€œThey are working on a response.â€ Meanwhile, Elizabeth Austin, spokesperson for Quinn, says, â€œWe have heard concerns.â€
The former assistant dean at the University, Robert Van Der Hooning, said he was told to set up the program when school officials requestd he use military scholarships to build up attendance and revenue in the MBA program. He also stated he was ordered to cut back the program because of costs and worries about admitting dozens of â€œjar headsâ€ who would dilute the quality of the MBA program. Of course, the University disputes Van Der Hooning’s version and says the scholarships were never to be awarded all at once or for just the Chicago-based MBA program. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given the University praise when they tentatively accepted 70 applicants while Van Der Hooning lost his job, which he believes was in retaliation for his honesty. He filed a legal complaint with the Court of Claims and remains unemployed and unwelcome on college campuses because of his complaint. He says, â€œI’ve gotten close a number of times, but this â€¦ subject keeps coming up again and again. When you explain it to people, they understand it … On the other hand, I wasn’t a compliant soldier who just saluted at attention.”
In response to the entire situation, reader Laurie aptly states, â€œSo Watergate comes to Champaign through a military scholarship scandal with a coverup by Dean Ghosh, President White and the Board. Excellent work. Now you have the Lt. Governor demanding answers in addition to a court of law. How despicable to promise veterans a free degree and then change the admissions deadlines after they were accepted? A message to Joe White, Richard Herman, the Board of Trustees and that scoundrel Avijit Ghosh – I donâ€™t want to hear another thing about Brilliant Futures or Inclusive Illinois from you.
University of Illinois has one standard for athletes and students but another for your own employees. You refuse to play by the rules. You should not expect it from your students.â€
Another reader, Montsy P, adds, â€œVeterans should be treated with respect and dignity because they were brave enough to fight for this county. They should be able to live comfortably in the United States with all their vital needs provided. Many veterans come back from war traumatized and disabled. We as Americans should look out for those who fought for our freedom.â€
Frankly, it would be a welcome change to have experienced military members who were able to survive a war and international crisis complete an executive MBA program and become the leaders of big business. With all the failures in big business today, we need people who know what’s going in in the world and have the capability to handle themselves under any situation instead of self-centered, narrow-minded morons who create programs they refuse to fulfill and then tell tall tales later. Mamasaid there’d be days like this…