Community reacts after WIU President announces he will step down

MACOMB, Illinois - Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas announced he will step down on June 30.

The announcement came during a Board of Trustee's meeting in the gymnasium at Western Illinois University's Macomb Campus on June 14.

In a statement, Thomas said in part, "I believe the University would best be served by new leadership,"

That statement was read aloud to a gym packed with on-lookers.

Thomas will enter into administrative leave for the next two years. He will keep his full presidential salary and will have the option to return to work as a faculty member.

The announcement comes just days after a letter was sent to the Board of Trustee's asking for the removal of Thomas if he did not step down by June 30. The letter was written by the WIU Alumni Council.

WIU Alumni Council President John Sanders was present during the Board of Trustee's meeting on June 14.

He addressed the board saying, "We stand ready and willing to support and engage with the Board of Trustees," and also said, "We will not talk our way out of this, we will not cut our way out of it, but we can grow our way out of it,"

The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Greg Aguilar, spent time praising President Thomas for his hard work as president of the university.

At the end of the speech, Aguilar said, "it is vital that the final decisions regarding this university fall on the board of trustees and no one else."

Many people in the Western community are looking forward to a fresh start at the university.

"We need to let people know that we are here for the long-term. That there is no threat of the university closing and we stop talking about the university closing and we talk about the university growing," said Mark Bernards, Associate Professor.

Retired faculty member Jim Keeney said new leadership is needed at Western Illinois University.

"I think its important that the university have new leadership. There is a large amount of distrust between the current administration and the faculty and staff because of the way decisions," said Keeney.

The Board of Trustees will now need to meet to discuss the next steps in finding a new president for Western Illinois University.


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