Ikenberry and UI Hospital
Editor: I was disappointed in the glowing article devoted to embattled University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry (November, pp. 13-15). The article certainly bore out the author's premise that Ikenberry is a master of public relations, but it is inappropriate for an objective, issues-oriented magazine to defend the president of its cosponsor.
Ikenberry's P.R. comes at great cost to our university and to state taxpayers. Administrative costs have grown dramatically during Ikenberry's tenure. From $24 million in 1983, central administration has grown to $56 million in 1989 — an increase of almost 150 percent. Other UI administrative costs have also grown at rates higher than inflation. It is no wonder that those state legislators not standing in line behind Mike Madigan refer to UI as "the black hole," taking all the money thrown into it but never satisfied.
It should be noted that UI did not try to close UI Hospital because yearly patient days dropped from 130,000 to 72,000. Rather, in May 1987, the UI Board of Trustees voted to restrict admissions to the hospital to those patients with commercial insurance or government sponsorship. This had the immediate effect of dropping patient days from 130,000 to 72,000. The distinction is crucial. Patients wanting care at UI were denied admission, beginning the road to the attempt at complete closure in 1989.
We encourage Ikenberry to maintain his current commitment to UI Hospital. A healthy hospital is vital to the health of the medical center, the university and the city of Chicago.
Readers: If you had trouble understanding the next-to-last paragraph in last month's story about the Chicago to Kansas City tollway (page 18), you weren't alone. Two lines were dropped. The sentence should have read:
"Truckers view the road with caution, some less enthusiastically than others. Said Robert Jasmon, executive vice president of the Midwest Truckers Association in Springfield:
'That's been a dream for years.' If truckers would have to pay tolls, Jasmon said, he would be opposed because truckers already pay high fuel and license fees to support the roads."
January 1990/Illinois Issues/11