The student union on the campus of Chicago State University

Chicago State University will pay $4.3 million to end whistleblower lawsuit

March 10, 2017
Former senior counsel James Crowley contended in a lawsuit that he was fired for exposing questionable contracts and refusing to shield public records.

Financially struggling Chicago State University has agreed to pay off a $4.3 million judgment it owes to a former administrator who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the school nearly seven years ago.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that after years of fighting the case, attorneys for the university say they will pay the judgment to James Crowley, who had been the university's senior legal counsel. He contended in 2010 that he was fired for exposing questionable contracts and refusing to shield public records that were embarrassing to former university President Wayne Watson

A jury in 2014 awarded Crowley back pay and $2 million in punitive damages, on top of $330,000 in fees for his attorneys. The amount owed has grown because of interest charges and additional fees incurred while Chicago State appealed the case.

The decision by Chicago State to end its appeals and pay the judgment to Crowley comes two months after the university settled another whistleblower lawsuit. Chicago State University agreed to pay $1.3 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by former chief financial officer Glenn Meeks, who said he was fired for reporting financial misconduct by Watson.

Chicago State has been mired in financial difficulties exacerbated by the inability of the Illinois legislature and governor to agree on a budget. Last year, the university laid off staff members and shortened its spring semester because of a lack of funds.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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