UI president's chief of staff resigns

UI president's chief of staff resigns

URBANA — Lisa Troyer, chief of staff for University of Illinois President Michael Hogan, has resigned amid an internal investigation about anonymous emails sent from her computer to faculty members.

Hogan announced Troyer's resignation Friday in an email to administrators. The president gave no reason for her departure but said she would remain at the UI as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology.

The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that the university's ethics and information technology offices are investigating allegations against Troyer.

A member of the Senates Conference, a university-level faculty group that advises the president, told The News-Gazette that the concern is that Troyer may have posed as a member of the group and sent anonymous emails to sway them from issuing a report critical of Hogan's controversial proposals on enrollment management.

Professor Nicholas Burbules, vice chairman of the conference, said Saturday that someone sent out two anonymous emails to faculty in early December purporting to be a member of the conference.

Computer science Professor Roy Campbell, also a panel member, determined that the emails appeared to have come from Troyer's computer, and emailed his colleagues to that effect. "The emails instantly stopped," Burbules said.

He said the emails "stirred the pot" of division among senates from the three campuses about Hogan's plan to centralize some aspects of enrollment management, admissions and financial aid. The Urbana and Chicago campus senates had expressed reservations about the plan, but the Springfield campus senate had supported it.

The conference was in the midst of drafting a final report on the plan, trying to reconcile three separate reports from the campuses.

Hogan had been unhappy with an earlier draft in mid-November that called for further exploration of some of the president's proposals and he urged the faculty to move more quickly to adopt them.

The anonymous emails said the conference was too divided to reach a consensus and should just "acknowledge that we're irreconcilably divided from each other and we should stop trying to pretend we can reach a consensus," Burbules said.

"It's our job as the Senates Conference to try to pursue a consensus when senates are divided," he said. "A letter that was urging us to give up, and admit that we can't do it, would prevent us from being able to advise this president on this very controversial proposal."

That would "clearly serve the president's interests," Burbules said, and the substance of the email showed knowledge of internal deliberations by the conference, he said.

"The idea that this was just some random person hacking into the computer really doesn't make a lot of sense to me," Burbules said.

He also said the investigation should cover whether the president knew Troyer had sent the emails.

University spokesman Tom Hardy did not respond to a call or email late Saturday, and Troyer did not respond to an email. Hardy told the Tribune that Hogan and Troyer would not be available for comment.

Hogan's announcement said Troyer will "resume teaching and research duties" as a tenured psychology professor.

But interim Provost Richard Wheeler told the Tribune that the campus may need to review the results of the internal investigation before making a decision about Troyer's role with the faculty.

Troyer, a tenured professor and former assistant provost, worked with Hogan at the University of Connecticut where he was president and before that at the University of Iowa, where he was provost. Her initial UI salary was $195,000 annually. She is earning $200,850 this year.

"I have worked with Lisa for the last nine years at three flagship public universities and know her to be an exceptional colleague: knowledgeable, hard working, loyal, collegial, and dedicated to helping each one of the universities achieve its aspirations despite challenging circumstances," Hogan wrote.

The Senates Conference approved a final report Dec. 21 endorsing some enrollment-management recommendations, rejecting some and urging further study on others. The vote was 13-2. Like the Urbana senates it said the most important recommendations were the first two, saying "there should be a collaborative process that involves the campuses and preserves the locus of control of setting enrollment policies and targets with the campuses," Burbules said.

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GeneralLeePeeved wrote on January 08, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Since the N-G saw fit to "re-write" this story and thus, effectively get rid of all the comments that had been made to the original version.....I guess I'll just have to re-post my comments...

Every year, all U of I employees must complete an on-line ethics "test".  They all know the ramifications of taking any actions that are considered unethical.  Lisa Troyer should not be able to hide behind "tenure" (which is a complete joke....but that's a story for another day...how does one gain tenure that quickly anyway?) and should be dismissed completely from the university if the allegations are true (assuming that the results of the investigation are made public).  It seems that you can change the names and faces at the top, but the stench remains the same.

read the DI wrote on January 08, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I certainly hope there is not more to this than a rogue (overpaid) professor/assistant acting on her own.

But lord help us if Hogan were involved. Tossing out two presidents in three years on ethical grounds does not an elite institution make.

readone wrote on January 08, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Of course he knew.  She has followed him to three different places and he got her hired here with tenure. With a large salary and a home close to his.  That is the only way she got tenure so quickly.  Anonymous e-mails that would "clearly serve the president's interests," were certainly something that they had discussed.  Time for another commission, is the Judge still available?

kiel wrote on January 08, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Just fyi, if a professor has tenure at another institution, the tenure almost always carries over. There may be an insidious aspect to this story, but Troyer's tenure is not it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 08, 2012 at 9:01 pm

That's good news.  If she loses her job here; she can get another with tenure somewhere else.  There are good jobs teaching Psychology.  Just not good jobs working as a psychologist.  Why did she leave her last job?

Alexander wrote on January 08, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Presumably Hogan negotiated to bring over his "team" from U.Conn, and in particular, Troyer. She was admin there, and I suspect, for general reasons, she would have not been useful in the new administration (who would have their own team). Also, UIUC's psych program is better rated, so it seems like a clear win for her. If she loses her tenured position here due to an ethics violation, then that's a tough position to be in, and I'm less than convinced another tenured job is in the bag. 

Separately, I agree with others: Hogan is in huge trouble. I don't know if any can prove he knew about the emails, but he's going to have to make a statement to the contrary to the board of trustees and hope there's no evidence around.  


45solte wrote on January 09, 2012 at 10:01 am

Insiders' club.  Losing one's career would be quite severe.  Isn't it more often the case that if something untoward is discovered the perp, in the insular world of academia, is given a quiet (very very quiet--as in won't appear in one's personnel file) option of moving on to a different institution of 'higher' learning?  Say, for example, tenure track professors on probation for sexual harrassment (of students)...  In the 'real world' I think one gets charged and such, as opposed to being 'internally' put on probation.  This latest issue, though, has slipped through to the public light of day, so if an investigation turns up wrong-doing maybe there will actually be some 'real world' consequences. 

Alexander wrote on January 09, 2012 at 11:01 am

"Isn't it more often the case that if something untoward is discovered the perp, in the insular world of academia, is given a quiet..."

First, this case came to the light of day _because_ of certain faculty in the "insular" world of academia. Second, I don't think that there's much difference between sexual harassment cases in academia and outside of it: do you think that if someone sexually harassed a person at some private company XYZ then XYZ would put out a New York times full page ad on it? Yes, if a professor commits a crime, the police usually do get involved. It happens all the time. Third, anyone being dismissed in academia has the right to apply to other schools; but for most academics (I assume) there's no "old boy's network" that just lets a sexual harasser walk into another school. What school do you think wants trouble like that? In fact, I suspect it's even easier in the "real world" for this to happen.



45solte wrote on January 09, 2012 at 1:01 pm

 '..but for most academics (I assume) there's no "old boy's network" that just lets a sexual harasser walk into another school. What school do you think wants trouble like that?'

Do you want me to name the couple I know of?  I'm not sure how to do that while protecting the privacy of the individuals involved. 

Alexander wrote on January 09, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Obviously I don't mind if you name them or not; but I'm happy to stipulate that there are sexual harassers that move to other schools. My point is that there's nothing special about universities that allow it. For example, suppose joe schmoe academic is forced to resign his position because of harassing a student. He'll apply elsewhere and get letters that he hopes won't talk about the reason he had to leave. Any school considering him will hopefully find out about his record and think twice. That's the same as any corporation. _Maybe_ his behavior will go unnoticed; or maybe joe schmoe is a big academic star and the other school might take a chance. That's also like any other corporation. I personally don't know examples outside this pattern. But yes, I'm willing to be educated.

UIUCHoopFan wrote on January 09, 2012 at 8:01 am

This mess is just another University of Illinois onion....the more layers you peel the stinkier it gets.  Think about it....Lisa Troyer has followed Hogan through three institutions in order to do his dirty work.  She's definitely Hogan's Hero!  Send them both packing! 

When will people finally be fed up with hearing jokes that use "The University of Illinois" as a punchline?

Savoyard wrote on January 09, 2012 at 1:01 pm

It did not take long for the culture of arrogance that characterizes the U of I's administration to manifest itself publicly once again. And how conveninent that a tenured position awaits so that Mr. Hogan's assistant can return to her first love, which is teaching. Isn't that the standard dismissed administrator's mantra?

Lostinspace wrote on January 09, 2012 at 6:01 pm

In a well-run institution, this might be considered as a dumb, even funny, lack of judgment.

But, given the pattern of recent administrative scandals, this has to be taken seriously.  It is a sign of significant distrust and perhaps administrative infighting.

If the allegation is true -- and resignation points that way -- the president must act firmly and swiftly. A simple resignation is not sufficient to maintain credibility, and withdrawal of tenure seems severe.  Options to consider: a serious cut in salary, re-assignment to another office, close supervision and surveillance.

The best option for Ms Troyer, granting that her misstep was mere clumsiness, would seem to be transfer to another institution.

If it turns out that she was following orders, that is another kettle of fish.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Either way, Hogan is damaged.  His creditability will be suspect.  The faculty will become more vocal with less administrative interference.  Every issue will be contested.  To have his chief of staff resign due to the scandal reduces his clout.  It would serve the university, and Hogan for him resign; and seek new employment.  Whether he knew, or did not know, does not matter.  He was in charge.  Maybe, they can get someone cheaper the next time around.  The other culprits are those who selected him.  However, we all know how the trustees are selected.  It is a pattern of incompetency.     

Alexander wrote on January 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Unfortunately, the last time the president was fired, the next one (Hogan) was more expensive. I doubt that will change.