Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas is completing his seventh year at the helm, yet he has never signed a contract with the school. Instead the Board of Trustees has always signed a Letter of Employment with him. (see editor's note below for update)
The board wants to change that and Chair Cathy Early said the two sides are now working out the details.
“The letter is more of a handshake agreement, and having a contract is more of a formal process. And we’re just looking to make it a formal process,” she said, adding the board hopes to complete the process by the end of the month so the contract aligns with the university’s fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“There’s always been an annual agreement and we’re not looking at doing anything differently than what we have done in the past,” said Early.
She said the Letters of Employment spelled out some expectations. The contract will likely expand upon those expectations.
“Presidential Assessment and Contract” was on the agenda for the BoT’s meeting held June 8 at WIU’s campus in Moline. But the board tabled the item. Early said that was done so the two sides could finalize details, and she emphasized the board is negotiating with the incumbent.
“We’re looking at a contract for Dr. Thomas,” Early told TSPR after the meeting.
During the meeting, she said, “We appreciate the work that President Thomas has done over this past year, particularly in light of the stressful circumstances that have been going on.”
President Thomas told TSPR he’s okay with the planned change.
“When you look at most presidents in our state, they have a contract. And they every so often go back and update that contract. So I look forward to it,” he said.
Since this story was reported, the WIU administration contacted TSPR with this statement:
“Dr. Thomas does indeed have a signed contract in place. In 2011, Dr. Thomas signed an employment offer letter (which serves as an employee's contract) when he was named president and his terms of employment remain as outlined in the original letter/contract.
“The letter he signed upon accepting the presidency remains in effect. The letter of employment and contract are one in the same. We do not believe this was made clear, and apologize for not catching this earlier, and for not making sure this was clear. “
New BoT Officers
During the June 8 meeting, the board chose its new officers. They will assume the duties July 1.
Carolyn Ehlert Fuller of Milan – Chair
Yvonne Savala of East Moline – Vice Chair
Todd Lester of Macomb – Secretary
They replace Cathy Early of Macomb, Steve Nelson of Moline, and Roger Clawson of Moline. They served as chair, vice chair, and secretary, respectively.