Chicago State University hires new leadership

May 10, 2018 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago State University is following some financially difficult years by bringing in new leadership, including a former federal prosecutor as the university’s president and a former Chicago Bears defensive lineman as athletic director.

University officials announced Wednesday that Zaldwaynaka Scott is scheduled to take over as university president July 1. Scott is an attorney at Foley & Lardner and served on the university’s board of trustees from 2009-13.


“I am familiar with the institution, having served on the board and having lived on the South Side for almost my entire life,” Scott said. “I believe that at this point of the school’s history, I think it requires the leadership skills I possess.”

Scott does not have a background in higher education, but she said she’s confident in helping the university refocus its efforts on students.

“I grew up in a house of educators,” she said. “My mother retired as a public education school librarian, and my father was a math teacher.”

Scott said she plans to spend time with staff, students, faculty and elected officials to learn about the school’s weaknesses and strengths. She said she also hopes to work with the business community to improve the university’s profile and brand.

Officials also tapped Chris Zorich to be the university’s athletic director. Zorich played for the Bears from 1991-96.

Zorich said Chicago State is “a hidden gem.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to be around some successful cultures. I’ve seen what success looks like and what you have to do,” he said. “It’s going to take time, and I’m willing to put effort into it.”

The school has tried to find solid financial footing after declaring a state of financial emergency in 2016 amid the Illinois budget crisis.

Lack of funds led to layoffs at the school. The university’s accreditation agency issued sanctions after the institution’s graduation rates and enrollment numbers fell.