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Gov. Bruce Rauner appoints 2 new trustees for University of Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday nominated two University of Illinois graduates with decades of business experience to fill vacancies on the university's Board of Trustees.

National Academy of Human Resources President Jill Smart and Northern Trust Senior Vice President Ramon Cepeda, both residents of the Chicago suburbs, will take seats on the board that oversees the university's three campuses if their nominations are confirmed by the state Senate. Their terms would end in 2021.

Smart, who is 55, is a 1981 business graduate of the university's flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, according to a university biography. She retired in 2014 as chief human resources officer at the management consulting and outsourcing company Accenture.

Smart, a Republican, also has been an adjunct faculty member at the university and lives in Downers Grove, according to Rauner's office. Her husband, Stephen, is a graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago and the two are longtime university donors, according to university information.

Cepeda is a 1990 criminal-justice graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago and, according to Rauner's office, a political independent.

The 47-year-old Cepeda lives in Darien and has worked at Northern Trust, a Chicago-based financial services company, since 1987, according to the governor's office. He has also worked at LaSalle bank and other banks.

Cepeda donated $250 last year to Rauner's campaign, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections records. State records don't indicate any recent donations by Smart.

Cepeda and Smart will fill the seats formerly held by Democrats Christopher Kennedy and Pamela Strobel, whose terms expired last month. The board has 13 members, including the governor and three student trustees, though two of the students cannot vote. The other nine members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor.

Last month the board of trustees named fellow trustee Edward McMillan to be the new chairman. Kennedy had been chairman.

Turnover on the board comes just after Rauner proposed cutting 31.5 percent from state appropriations for public universities, including the University of Illinois campuses.

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