Metro-East News

State inspector general to review SIUC chancellor’s hiring choices

The Southern Illinois University president has launched an ethics investigation into hiring the new SIUC chancellor’s children that will go to the state.

SIU President Randy Dunn announced Friday that after learning about “hiring irregularities” related to jobs apparently created for SIUC chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s daughter and son-in-law, he directed the university’s internal audit and ethics compliance office to inquire whether state hiring procedures were properly followed.

An investigation by the student newspaper Daily Egyptian reported that Melissa and Jeffrey Germain, daughter and son-in-law to Montemagno, were hired for university jobs they never applied for and were never advertised. A statement from SIUC spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said there was a “verbal agreement” between Montemagno and Dunn to help his family find jobs, which she said is “not unusual” in the negotiations to bring in a university administrator.

But Dunn’s statement said he wanted a full ethics investigation about the decision to hire the Germains and about potential hiring decisions involving former colleagues or employees of the chancellor.

The Daily Egyptian reported that at least four other people with whom Montemagno previously worked have interviewed for campus positions since he was appointed. In at least one case, the candidate chosen by the search committee was overruled and another person brought in who was less qualified, but recommended by Montemagno and had formerly worked for him in the lab he founded in Alberta, Canada, according to the Daily Egyptian.

At least one faculty member quoted by the Daily Egyptian said to some extent, the faculty felt pressured to hire people Montemagno wanted because he is in the process of eliminating and consolidating departments, and by getting on his “good side,” they might save their programs.

Less than 24 hours after calling for the review, Dunn said, the SIU Office of Internal Audit, Compliance and Ethics recommended that the issue of hiring the chancellor’s daughter and son-in-law should go to the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General.

Dunn said, in essence, that since the SIU office reports to the board of trustees and the president, an outside body was needed to “preserve the independence of the office and ensure the independence of the review.”

However, the review of the other faculty members hired by Montemagno would remain with the SIU compliance office, Dunn’s statement said.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald