By Ray Long and Jodi Cohen
5:10 PM EDT, July 7, 2011
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn today overhauled the board overseeing the prepaid college tuition program that is under fire for slow sales, an arguably risky investment strategy and a $300 million shortfall.
Quinn named five new appointees -- half of the 10-member board of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission -- following the financial developments that shook confidence in the College Illinois program and worried parents who want to make sure their children’s tuition bills will be paid. Investors are pressing for changes in the program, which now is under review by the state auditor general.
The Democratic governor called his new board, which includes some with investment experience, a “good team."
The new members include Chicagoan Verett Ann Mims, an assistant treasurer of global treasury operations at Boeing. She’s filling a vacancy on the board left open since Quinn’s budget chief, David Vaught, stepped down shortly after Quinn became governor in January 2009.
Additional newcomers include Chicagoan Marina Y. Faz-Huppert, legislative director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, and Kendall Griffin of Forest Park, who is assistant principal for operations at Niles West High School.
Two new appointees work in different areas at the University of Illinois at Chicago: Chicagoan Mark Donovan is vice chancellor of administrative services, and Kim Savage of Darien is student affairs assessment program coordinator. Savage also serves on the College of DuPage board of trustees.
In May, Quinn appointed a new chairman, Kym Hubbard, chief investment officer at Ernst & Young, along with former City Clerk Miguel del Valle, a longtime state lawmaker who previously headed the Senate Education Committee.
A governor’s spokesman said the administration is still reviewing the membership of the board. One other vacancy has yet to be filled. In addition, the terms of board member Sharon Alpi and a student member expired last week.
Andrew Davis, ISAC's executive director, said that before Quinn named Hubbard and de Valle to the board earlier this year, all but one of the commissioners had expired appointments.
"We are delighted that he has made his appointments and look forward to meeting these folks," Davis said. "They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and seem to be well-rounded and experienced in matters of business and education."
Rep. Jim Durkin, the Western Springs Republican who pushed for the auditor general review, warned he will move forward with legislation to transfer the College Illinois program to the comptroller’s office if he sees little progress this summer. He said the program must be able to make payments to cover student costs and overhaul its investment policies.
Durkin, who has invested in the program for his daughter's education, said he hears every day from other investors upset about the program’s poor financial health. He said he would reserve judgment about the new set of board members until Quinn fills the rest of the board.
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