With four of the eight seats open since the end of March, the newly appointed members will replace former Vice Chairwoman Zaldwaynaka Scott and former trustee Adam Stanley. Two seats on the board remain open.
The appointments are especially important because without them, the board couldn’t reach a quorum.
Horace Smith, of the 1100 block of South Michigan Avenue, and Spencer Leak Sr., of the 9100 block of South Constance Avenue, will become permanent members once they are confirmed by the state Senate. Smith is a pastor at Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago as well as a physician – a hematologist, oncologist and pediatrician – working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Leak is a prominent funeral-home director as the owner of Leak & Sons Funeral Homes in Chicago.
“Now that the position was open to be a trustee there, I just couldn’t turn that down,” said Leak, who got a call from the governor’s office confirming he had been appointed on Monday. “I want to see the university flourish and really thrive here in the city of Chicago. I think it can.”
Both Smith and Leak are alumni of Chicago State University.
University President Wayne Watson has recently been at odds with senior board members, including former board Chairman Gary Rozier and Vice Chairwoman Scott, who had wanted a change in leadership. Both Rozier and Scott’s terms expired Jan. 21, and they were not reappointed within 60 days, so their assignments lapsed in March.
For a period in February, it was unclear who the university’s president was, as the board expected Watson to take a yearlong sabbatical and appointed an acting president. The board ultimately decided Watson would remain in office as the university investigated allegations that he violated unspecified policy. The board promised a decision on his employment by June 30.
Smith said he’s joining the board with an open and optimistic mind.
“I’m anxious to sit down with the persons involved and make an assessment of what’s happening with the university,” Smith said, “and make education better for our students.”