Questions remain about UI exec's future on campus
UPDATED 5:10 p.m.: The University has released the anonymous emails after The News-Gazette filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The emails are here, in pdf format (a 54 K document).
The investigation into anonymous emails sent from the computer of a top administrator at the University of Illinois is almost complete, and the chairman of the UI's board — who called the sending of those messages a "juvenile" act — said trustees have moved on and will continue with a controversial effort to revise how the university admits and accepts students.
Meanwhile, questions linger about Lisa Troyer's future on the Urbana campus. Troyer, the chief of staff to President Michael Hogan since July 2010, resigned last week amid inquiries into anonymous emails sent that reportedly attempted to sway members of a faculty governance group from criticizing President Hogan's proposal on enrollment management.
The UI launched an investigation into the matter before Christmas, within 12 hours of the two anonymous emails sent to members of the Senates Conference, according to university spokesman Tom Hardy.
Ted Chung, of the Jones Day law firm in Chicago, and the forensic accounting firm Duff and Phelps are working with the UI's legal counsel, ethics office and information technology chief on the inquiry. Both firms previously worked with the UI on uncovering the manipulation of law student test scores at the College of Law.
The recent investigation was launched to "ascertain the circumstances of those anonymous emails ... and whether or not the university's IT system had somehow been hacked or otherwise compromised," Hardy said. "We've been conducting a thorough and expeditious inquiry into those circumstances since that time."
That investigation is "largely complete," UI board Chairman Christopher Kennedy told The News-Gazette on Monday.
"Someone did a juvenile thing, and that's behind us now," Kennedy said. "When people fail to live up to the greatness of the university, they depart. It's a reflection of the new standard" at the university, he said.
As for Troyer's future employment at the university, Kennedy pointed out that she does hold tenure. The board has purview on positions reporting to the president; who has or whose tenure is being contested is not the board's focus, he said.
Asked what bearing the inquiry had on Troyer's resignation, Hardy said, "Her decision to resign was a personal decision," declining further comment.
Troyer contacted CIO
Hardy said Troyer herself alerted the UI's chief information officer, Michael Hites, "that there'd been an anonymous email and expressed a concern about the security of the IT system."
Troyer's notification came 25 minutes after computer science Professor Roy Campbell emailed other Senates Conference members that the anonymous emails appeared to have come from Troyer's computer.
Troyer sent her resignation to the president late Tuesday, and he became aware of it Wednesday morning, Hardy said. He then notified university administrators and senior administrators from the three campuses on Friday.
Hardy declined to comment about the president's knowledge of the emails.
Trustee Ed McMillan said he and other trustees were informed about Troyer's resignation Friday, but he doesn't know anything more than what's been publicly reported.
McMillan also said he didn't know how much the president knew about the emails.
"At this point I don't know enough to say. I think it's a legitimate question," McMillan said. "I was a CEO. The buck always stopped with me."
Don Chambers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who chairs the Senates Conference, said he was pleased to hear the university hired outside legal counsel "and they're taking it very seriously."
"I wouldn't presume guilt on a variety of people's part, but I wouldn't presume innocence either," Chambers said.
Her next move
In his message announcing Troyer's departure, Hogan said she would rejoin the faculty. But what specific role she will have on campus is not clear.
When Troyer was hired as chief of staff, she also was given a zero-time faculty position in the Department of Psychology as a tenured full professor. She holds a doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, but Hardy said Troyer has a background both in sociology and psychology.
UI Provost Richard Wheeler, whose office oversees academic programs and policies on the Urbana campus, said the presumption is Troyer will assume a position in psychology, but that depends on the outcome of the investigation.
"What we have here are rather special circumstances that have provoked a pretty extensive examination that comes out of the ethics office. And until the campus understands what the findings of that investigation are, nobody knows anything about what the next step is going to be," Wheeler said.
The provost said he has "complete confidence in the people conducting the investigation," but added, "The campus needs to have an opportunity to study the findings of this investigation and determine whether or not it's appropriate to conduct a further investigation of what is now a faculty member, as opposed to an administrator."
Chambers said: "If it turns out she was guilty, I don't think that the faculty would be happy being a default for her employment."
As chief of staff, Troyer's salary was $200,850. Hardy said Troyer's faculty salary has not been determined, but "she would revert to a salary that's more in line with faculty members in the department, with comparable levels of experience."
It's not unusual for administrators to rejoin their academic departments after leaving an administrative post, but in this case Troyer has not worked in the department, officials said Monday. Troyer has not done any teaching or research since coming to the university in July 2010, when she was appointed Hogan's executive assistant and chief of staff.
"Neither the appropriate salary nor the appropriate source of funds has been conclusively identified yet," Wheeler said.
Troyer was on the Iowa faculty from 1994 to 2007 and rose to the rank of full professor of sociology. During that time she was tapped by Hogan, then Iowa's provost, to be an administrative fellow in his office and to work on a strategic plan, according to the University of Connecticut website. She was eventually appointed interim associate provost, and when Hogan was named president at UConn, he asked Troyer to move with him.
She became senior associate to the president and chief of staff at UConn, and also held an appointment as a tenured sociology professor but dealt exclusively with administrative matters, said spokesman Michael Kirk.
Meanwhile, UI board Chairman Kennedy said trustees "back President Hogan 100 percent" on the issue of enrollment management, the topic that has sparked debate among university circles throughout the fall.
The university needs to be highly targeted and highly effective at attracting the best students to the university, Kennedy said.
Hogan commissioned a report from consultants on how the UI could improve its enrollment procedures and asked faculty to review that report last semester. Among the many issues they raised, faculty expressed concerns about centralization of enrollment management.
"Lots of people think enrollment management is a contentious thing, but we all agree there needs to be enrollment management," Chambers said.
Last month, the Senates Conference voted 13 to 2 in support of a subcommittee's report that ended up endorsing only three of the 21 recommendations in the consultants' report.
On Monday, in light of the investigation and Troyer's resignation as chief of staff, Harriet Murav, president of the Campus Faculty Association, a faculty group separate from the Senates Conference, called for a moratorium on Hogan's efforts to rework enrollment management.
Hardy, however, said the plan is to move forward with the proposal.