This morning, we mentioned the University of Illinois College of Law admissions scandal. It appears that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pressured the University of Illinois Chancellor, Richard Herman, and Heidi Hurd, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, to admit underqualified students who were politically connected. In exchange for admitting those students, university officials attempted to obtain jobs for graduates of the College of Law.
The Chicago Tribune reports the results of its investigation into the law school:
The documents show for the first time efforts to seek favors — in this case, jobs — for admissions, the most troubling evidence yet of how Illinois’ entrenched system of patronage crept into the state’s most prestigious public university.
They also detail the law school’s system for handling “Special Admits,” students backed by the politically connected, expanding the scope of a scandal prompted by a Chicago Tribune investigation.
The paper has published the incriminating emails (PDF) it has uncovered. Warning, these emails are not safe for naive people who are unaccustomed with the “Chicago style” of getting things done. Here’s an exchange between the Chancellor and the Dean about what jobs would be appropriate in exchange for admitting politically connected students:
I suppose there are worse things than a dean trying to aggressively secure employment for her law graduates can’t pass the bar and can’t think. Of course, you’d hope that the dean would be even more focused on educating students so that they can pass the bar and, you know, think — but why cry over spilled milk?
In fact, some Illinois law graduates we spoke with had a very positive impression of Dean Hurd. Depending, of course, on what you mean by positive.
Some student impressions of the dean, and more emails, after the jump.
Some former Illinois law students had some very … nice … things to say about Dean Hurd:
Hurd was pretty colorful. She wore a full length fur coat, drove a BMW roadster, was very friendly with students, and many students put her in the MILF category, which she seemed aware of but also seemed to enjoy. She was not one to turn down the opportunity for some mild flirting with students in her first semester 1L class, the only class she taught while dean.
Check out Hurd’s picture to the right. That’s somewhere on the order of Stifler’s mom, right?
But don’t let the desperate-mom-next-door looks fool you, this is a lady who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. When pressed that the admission requests came “straight from the G” — which appears to mean straight from Governor Blagojevich — Hurd fired right back with the job demands:
Such aggressive tactics seem to have been a recurring theme during her tenure. A source reports:
Dean Hurd was a controversial dean. She left very suddenly at the end of spring semester 2007 and returned to her tenured teaching position. It was unexpected, as she had been very successful at fundraising and pushing our rankings. That is despite her problems with fudging the numbers for USNWR one year.
Alas, the Governor’s alleged request worried some people at Illinois College of Law at least in part because of the hit Illinois law would take in the U.S. News rankings:
You get the feeling that this is the kind of scandal that is only going to get worse as more information comes to light. The potential scope of this problem for the College of Law is truly shocking:
Gov. Pat Quinn convened a state commission to investigate the U. of I. admissions process after the Tribune revealed that more than 800 undergraduate applicants in the last five years received special consideration because they were backed by U. of I. trustees, legislators and others in powerful posts.
As you know, I’m a big proponent of taking factors other than GPA and LSAT scores into consideration when it comes to admissions. But being down with “the G” doesn’t seem relevant to any higher goal that a law school might aspire to.
Then again, a job is a job, and actually employing people is a huge part of the U.S. News formula. In that world, five jobs for five mouth breathers could be pretty enticing. You can almost hear Heidi Hurd saying:
I’ve got this thing and it’s f****** golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f****** nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it.