Gov. Pat Quinn announced the appointment of former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees Friday, calling Fitzgerald "an excellent public servant."
"Patrick Fitzgerald is a friend of mine, and I think a friend of anyone who's looking for education in Illinois that's open to everyone...that gives us the opportunity to make our society better," Quinn told reporters Friday morning after attending an annual interfaith breakfast in Chicago in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fitzgerald replaced Lawrence Oliver II, whose term expired this year, on the board that includes nine members appointed by the governor for six-year terms and three student-members elected from the universities at Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.
"I hope (Oliver) can stay with us in another area of service, and I look forward to working with him," Quinn said.
Fitzgerald was Chicago's longest-serving U.S. attorney, and he led the investigations and prosecutions of former convicted Illinois governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. He served from the time President George W. Bush appointed him in 2001 up until joining Skadden law firm last year.
Prior to working in Chicago, Fitzgerald was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York for more than a decade. He has a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Quinn called his decision "a very important appointment" and praised Fitzgerald for his commitment to education.
"I want to personally thank Patrick Fitzgerald for his outstanding service as U.S. attorney in this region, and I think his commitment to integrity, education and to service, all of those we can all take to heart. We have to be honest, we have to understand how important education is to making our society better, and we have to understand we have a duty of service to others. That's the rent we pay for our place on God's earth."
Quinn also named board member Chris Kennedy chair of the board and reappointed Timothy Koritz and James Montgomery.