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Prairie State Chair Agee In Hot Seat After Stepdad's $80K Hire

Prairie State Chair Jacqueline Agee wins cheers for helping vets, but jeers for her role in hiring of her stepfather to new job.

Prairie State Chair Agee In Hot Seat After Stepdad's $80K Hire Prairie State Chair Agee In Hot Seat After Stepdad's $80K Hire

Chair Jacqueline Agee found herself facing serious criticism at Tuesday night's board meeting, after one faculty representative called for her resignation in the wake of her stepfather's appointment to an $80,000 job.

Prairie State English professor John H. Flannigan, president of the Faculty Federation, described the appointment of Leo R. Alexander as "a lapse in judgement" for Agee.

Alexander, appointed to the post of Temporary Director of Labor Relations last month, got the job without any search committee or advertisement of the position, Flannigan said.

"In trying to discover Mr. Alexander's experience with assisting in negotiating contracts in a higher education setting, I discovered last week to my shock and dismay that he is the stepfather of the Board Chair," said Flannigan, who read from prepared remarks.

"Furthermore, the Board Chair voted in favor of her own stepfather's appointment at the last meeting," Flannigan said.

Prairie State 'not a Mom and Pop grocery store'

Flannigan, a 17-year-employee, appeared to chastise the board as a whole, commenting, "Prairie State College is not a mom-and-pop grocery store but a public institution in which our community places enormous trust."

"It is not too late to save the College from serious embarrassment," Flannigan said, asking the board to rescind the appointment.

In an interview following his address to the board, Flannigan said he had little hope that the board would reverse its decision, but predicted that the faculty association would bring a 'no confidence' vote at its upcoming January meeting. 

"For $80,000, we could have had two associate professors," Flannigan pointed out.

Rebecca Weeks, an adjunct Mathematics professor, said that she felt that school board policies banning preferential treatment of family members should apply to step parents. "As far as I'm concerned, my step dad is my father," Weeks said.

'Perception of impropriety'

Trustee Kathleen Doyle, who along with board members Marc Wiley and Brunetta Hill-Corley was absent from the Nov. 29 meeting, said she would have cast a no vote to Alexander's appointment. 

"When I did find out about the hiring, I did voice my displeasure to the board chair that this was not a good hire," Doyle said. "It does give a perception of impropriety."

After Flannigan's call for her resignation, Agee showed little emotion.

Later, however, Agee appeared moved when she received a 'challenge medal' from veteran and student Alex Raskey, who presented it in gratitude for the founding of a Student Veterans Center.

Following the meeting, Agee declined to comment directly on the issue involving her stepfather, but did point out that the hiring took place with the knowledge of Board President Eric C. Radtke.

She issued the following brief statement via email through Prairie State Communications Director Jennifer Stoner: “We appreciate the faculty bringing their concerns to the board.”

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