SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn is poised to name two new members to the embattled Southern Illinois University board of trustees as early as Friday.
The Times Springfield Bureau has learned the governor is expected to appoint retired Illinois Adjutant General Randal Thomas and former SIU-Edwardsville history professor Shirley Portwood to the board.
The two appointees are the result of a compromise worked out between Quinn and members of the Illinois Senate, who balked at an earlier round of nominees.
In February, the Senate took the rare step of dumping nominees Sandra Cook of Collinsville, Dr. Melvin Terrell of Chicago and Lee Milner of Springfield after concerns were raised that Quinn wanted them to install trustee Roger Herrin of Harrisburg as chairman.
Herrin has repeatedly clashed with SIU President Glenn Poshard.
Portwood, who resides in Godfrey, taught on the Edwardsville campus from 1980 until 2010.
She also has served as a member of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Trustees since March 2010.
Thomas, a resident of Springfield, was the 36th Adjutant General of Illinois — the highest National Guard post in the state.
Thomas is a graduate of SIU-Edwardsville, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1973 and a master of science degree in education in 1980.
Before his appointment as the adjutant general, Thomas worked for 30 years as an English teacher, librarian and media director in Hillsboro.
"I've tried to define my life as a life of service," Thomas said in an interview Thursday. "I thought this would be a great opportunity to continue that service."
He said he plans to talk with Poshard and the chancellors at the university's two campuses in the coming days.
Portwood could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, praised the nominees, saying he worked with the governor to find new members after threatening to push legislation through the Senate that would have limited who Quinn could have appointed.
"I appreciate very much the governor engaging in a colloquy with us in the legislature," Haine said.
Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who represents the university's Carbondale campus, said he is anxiously awaiting Quinn's pick to fill the final vacancy on the board.
"SIU-Carbondale is the most important entity in my district. If it succeeds, then Carbondale succeeds. And it has struggled lately," Luechtefeld said. "We have to get this thing fixed. The board has to work with the administration. The sooner that happens the better."
Thomas and Portwood are expected to join the board at its meeting on Wednesday.