CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois President B. Joseph White resigned yesterday after reports that the school admitted politically connected applicants over more qualified ones at its Urbana-Champaign campus. White said he sent a resignation letter to Christopher Kennedy, the chairman of the university’s board of trustees.
“I take this action to enable you as a newly constituted board to select university leadership going forward,’’ White wrote in the letter. “It has been a privilege for my wife, Mary, and me to serve the university community.’’
According to a university statement, White will remain with the central Illinois school to teach and raise funds.
News reports first surfaced in May that politically connected applicants for spots at the university’s flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign were given special attention. One applicant, initially denied admission but later accepted, turned out to be a relative of Tony Rezko, the convicted political influence peddler who is a key figure in the federal government’s investigation of former governor Rod Blagojevich.