The controversy surrounding online comments made by a member of the Concordia University Board of Regents appears to have come to a conclusion this week with the unexplained departure of Eric Arno Hiller from the board.
Hiller has been under fire over the last year for racist and misogynistic comments he made on Facebook that were captured and shared with Concordia students, faculty and alumni, prompting an online petition for his removal, signed by thousands.
Word of his departure from the board of regents came in a press release from the university on Aug. 26, announcing the installation of River Forest-based Concordia’s new president, Russell P. Dawn.
The press release also revealed the departure of Hiller and four other university regents. The press release did not address the reasons for Hiller’s leaving the board.
Hiller also could not be reached for comment.
Wednesday Journal left multiple messages for Hiller at his job at McKinsey & Company earlier in August which were not returned.
A more recent call to McKinsey, in an attempt to reach Hiller, revealed that there is no longer an employee at the consulting firm by that name. Hiller’s LinkedIn profile online still identifies him as a McKinsey employee.
Concordia’s president, Dawn, also declined to comment on Hiller’s departure.
Eric Matanyi, a spokesman for the university said he has “no additional information to provide” beyond the Aug. 26 press release, adding that Dawn “is not accepting interviews related to this matter at this time.”
Hiller’s social media statements were made public by a group of Concordia alumni, who created a Facebook page titled “Concerned CUC Family” and published comments made by Hiller. The social media posts, among other things, referred to Asian people as “Orientals” and stated that “a typical woman” should “carefully manage her priorities, or she will be swept along by the wicked zeitgeist that will encourage her to get more degrees and promotions and more responsibilities.”
The CUC Family Facebook page issued a statement on Hiller’s departure from the board of regents, noting, “We have no further details at this time, but continue to hold the University and its leadership in our prayers. Thank you for joining us on this journey and we encourage you to continue praying that God’s will be done at this institution we love and hold so dear.”
Madison Schulz, a former student body president who helped spearhead the effort to have Hiller removed, said in a telephone interview that it is still unknown whether Hiller stepped down on his own or was forced out.
“We want to know if he was asked to step down or if he voluntarily stepped down,” she said. “We’ll probably never know that. I think we have to be OK with the fact that we probably won’t know.”
Hiller was appointed to his position on the board in 2013 – he still had three years remaining before his term ended.
The online petition on Change.org had collected over 3,000 signatures as of Aug. 28. It aimed to have the board of regents remove Hiller at its upcoming meeting in September.
“We thought we were going to have to fight this thing through September,” Schulz told Wednesday Journal.
She said it was never the group’s intention to hurt him personally or affect his job.
“We don’t want to hinder his getting a job in the future,” she said. “We’re all human and we all make mistakes, and I think this is a consequence of those opinions voiced online.”
She added that her group doesn’t “think a person with that type of opinion should be leading our school.”