SPRINGFIELD — The board that oversees Illinois’ troubled prepaid college tuition program is undergoing an overhaul with the nomination of new members.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — The board that oversees Illinois’ troubled prepaid college tuition program is undergoing an overhaul with the nomination of new members.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-West Springs, an outspoken critic of how College Illinois! was marketed and its investments handled, was among the chorus of legislators calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to nominate new board members after the news of the weak fund emerged this spring.

“I am expecting the board … to provide recommendations to me, if there is a necessity to make changes in state law,” Durkin said.

The state Senate Executive Appointments Committee on Wednesday approved eight nominees for the new Illinois Student Assistance Commission, or ISAC, with no discussion at a hearing. The nine-member ISAC advises on investment decisions.

Before Quinn’s nominees can take office, the Senate must give its approval, which could happen as early as next week during the Legislature’s fall veto session.

A number of news reports earlier this year, including an investigation by Illinois Statehouse News, revealed that families bought into College Illinois!, thinking it was backed by the taxpayers, which it wasn’t.

That realization turned to fear when the cost of paying for tuition began to outpace the programs funds. Many attribute the disparity to questionable investments made before the recession.

Durkin said there needs to be more transparency on how investment decisions are made, too.

He said he was concerned that none of the nominees have paid into the program.

Getting someone on the board who’s bought a College Illinois! plan is something Quinn is considering, said Brooke Anderson, a Quinn spokeswoman.

“The governor is currently considering some strong candidates for the remaining open slot and expects to name someone soon,” said Anderson in an email.

ISAC’s newest board members are:

  • Kym Hubbard, chairwoman, treasurer and chief investment officer, Ernst & Young.
  • Mark Donovan, vice chancellor of administrative services, University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Miguel del Valle, former Chicago city clerk and failed mayoral candidate.
  • Marina Faz-Huppert, legislative director, Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers.
  • Kendall Griffin, assistant principal for operations, Niles West High School.
  • Verett Ann Mims, assistant treasurer, Global Treasury Operations, Boeing.
  • Paul Roberts, associate provost, Loyola University.
  • Kim Savage, student affairs assistant program coordinator and assistant to the vice chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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