John Ruberry of Marathon Pundit delves into another public relations problem for the University of Illinoisâ€”an alleged broken promise to offer MBA scholarships to Iraq war veterans. As a follow-up to an ABC 7 story by Chuck Goudie in January, Ruberry interviewed Robert van der Hooning, a former dean at the university who has filed a wrongful termination action against U. of I.
Hooning claims that the university committed to 110 scholarships last year and thus began awarding them to veterans. He says the university changed its mind in the middle of the program because of cost and told him to start terminating most of the scholarships. The university, through its spokesman Tom Hardy, is claiming that the 110 scholarship figure always was meant to cover three years and that van der Hooning overcommitted the scholarships in the first year.
Hooning, in his interview with Ruberry, paints his superiors as cynical and anti-military. Hardy denies those charges. Obviously, that rhetoric will get sorted out in court.
In the meantime, this looks like an opportunity for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to find some emergency money somewhere and make good on any commitments to veterans that were made. Rod made several impromptu commitments of state funds to groups last fall when he was campaigning for re-election, including $1 million to rebuild a church. This is an opportunity for him to show that he truly cares about the troops.