CFO candidate collecting salary, pension at Northeastern Illinois

By Samuel Charles

The search for Columbia’s next Chief Financial Officer was expected to conclude during summer 2011. Patricia Heath, interim CFO and vice president of business affairs, has been temporary steward of Columbia’s finances since January 2011 when former CFO Michael DeSalle stepped down.

In an April 10 email to the college community, President Warrick L. Carter said offers were made to other candidates but none were accepted.

“Unfortunately, because of circumstances that occurred with the candidates after the interview process, they declined [Columbia’s] offers,” the email read.

One of the newest candidates seeking to fill the position is Mark Wilcockson, current vice president for Finance and Administration at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave.

Though he has experience in higher education finance, Wilcockson and other secondary education administrators in Illinois have come under fire for allegedly double-dipping from state funds.

According to a CBS2 investigation, Wilcockson retired from NEIU, where he was earning more than $160,000 a year. He then returned to the university to earn $123,000 per year in addition to collecting his $101,312 annual pension, CBS reported.

It is unknown if Wilcockson would keep his state pension if he were to be hired as Columbia’s CFO. Wilcockson could not be reached for comment.

He is scheduled to take part in an open Q-and-A forum on April 20 with members of the college community.

The college, which had no comment, has used an independent firm to find candidates to fill the position.

According to Columbia’s job description of the CFO position, “The Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer is responsible for providing leadership, direction, and management of the fiscal and information technology functions of the college.”