Faculty, students heighten criticism of UI leadership

URBANA — University of Illinois faculty leaders are ratcheting up the pressure on President Michael Hogan as they spend the weekend drafting what is being described as a "statement on leadership" in which they are expected to call for accountability for the actions of the university's leader.

Meanwhile, students are preparing a similar statement to be voted on Wednesday, in which they characterize the recent university investigation into anonymous emails sent from the laptop of President Hogan's Chief of Staff, Lisa Troyer, as "just the latest instance of the administration unethically working to influence and muddle the process of shared governance."

The student resolution goes on to state that students are "sick of scandal and ethical failings of senior university, campus and college leadership."

Members of the Urbana campus' Senate Executive Committee met Friday to discuss their own "statement on leadership" and prepare for their meeting Monday with Hogan. The committee, made up of faculty, student and staff leaders, annually meets with the president around this time of year to review the state of the university.

Although the topic of Troyer and the investigation that concluded the anonymous emails were sent to faculty from her laptop, was not discussed publicly by members of the UI Board of Trustees, it is likely to come up at the Senate Executive Committee meeting Monday, according to members of that committee.

The senate's statement on leadership will likely be discussed again on Monday and eventually presented to the full faculty and student senate at their meeting on Jan. 30.

"The intention is to echo the public comments made to the board. There should be accountability for the actions committed by one's employees," said Joyce Tolliver, professor and vice chair of the committee. Tolliver has said the university community deserves an apology from Hogan.

The statement may be similar to remarks delivered to trustees on Thursday by University Senates Conference Chair Don Chambers, a UIC professor. Chambers told trustees at the end of their meeting in Chicago that "leaders must accept responsibility for what happens on their watch even if they may not have personally directed or approved it."

On Friday the Senate Executive Committee agreed to share a copy of Chambers' statement with the faculty student senate along with wording that said they endorse and support the principles articulated in Chambers' remarks.

It was the University Senates Conference, made up of faculty leaders from all three campuses, which was debating a report on enrollment management late last year when members received messages from someone posing as "a senator" and who attempted to persuade members to drop their opposition to Hogan's plan to change how the university manages student recruiting, admissions and other enrollment management issues.

The investigation concluded that the emails, sent Dec. 12, were sent from Troyer's computer. The report found no evidence that Hogan or anyone else knew about the Dec. 12 emails.

Tolliver said since the university released the outside consultants' report on the investigation, she has received messages from faculty asking what the senate will do in response.

The senate's statement is expected to cite various emails and other communications included in the appendix that accompanied the investigative report.

The emails included in the appendix show how university administration attempted to "intervene" in the senates conference's work and discourage it from issuing a report that was critical of Hogan's plans for enrollment management, said Nicholas Burbules, professor and member of the Senate Executive Committee and the vice chair of the University Senates Conference.

To say Troyer has resigned from the position and the issue is over "is not adequate to address what's going on."

"It really is damaging to the institution," Burbules said.

Tolliver said she has been frustrated with the fact that since the investigative report has been issued "no one at the university has taken responsibility for what has happened, including Lisa Troyer."

Faculty and students need to say publicly, "this is not typical of the U of I. It is not us," she said.

"Senior leaders need to embrace ethics so we don't keep having these problems," said UI junior Jim Maskeri, who said he was not speaking on behalf of the student body at large. Maskeri is one of the sponsors of the student resolution titled, "Statement for Ethical Leadership in University Governance."

"In the last five years we've seen lapses in ethical leadership at different levels of (university) leadership. These sorts of scandals affect all the different constituencies of the university," he said.

In recent weeks UI Board Chair Christopher Kennedy has said the board supports Hogan and has confidence in him. Hogan also has denied having any prior knowledge of the Dec. 12 anonymous emails or the earlier test email that Troyer reportedly sent on Dec. 5. Troyer has denied authoring them as well.

As for the contentious topic of enrollment management, Hogan and Kennedy met with the senates conference a week ago to review concerns and questions raised by faculty. Kennedy said Thursday "there's a commitment from the president to fully respond" to parts of the enrollment management report.

"All of that needs to be clarified. We're early in the process," he said. "There's certainly a need for greater clarity" in some areas, he said.

Hogan also told The News-Gazette on Thursday he thinks there can be "adjustments, as appropriate" in the plan for enrollment management.

News-Gazette staff writer Julie Wurth contributed to this report.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on January 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Dr. Hogan, and the Board of Trustees are walking on shaky ground.  Dr. Troyer is a state employee.  Ethics violations by state employees usually result in termination of employment.  Now; Dr. Hogan, and the Board of Trustees are faced with a choice.  Allow Dr. Troyer to retain tenure, and employment; or recind tenure, and terminate her employment.  Given the circumstances of the university president being the only one who can recind tenure, the matter should be turned over to the State of Illinois Inspector General's Office who has the responsibility to investigate ethics violations.  Either do the right thing; or allow someone else to do it.  Anything else is hypocritical, and unethical behavior.

Feltrino wrote on January 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Your logic makes sense provided culpability has been established. Carefully, the University has acknowledged that the emails were sent from Troyer's laptop but have stopped short of saying she was the author. The university needs to establish that she committed an ethics violation before anything else matters and they can't do that. Without subpoena powers, investigators are asking individuals with questionable ethics to tell the truth. 

It seems equally plausible that she did not send the emails as it is that Hogan was unaware of them. Look for them both to be packing their bags by graduation. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

The e-mails were sent on her laptop when it was in her possession.  She denies doing it.  The question of culpability has already been established.  An outside investigation by the State's Inspector General's Office would allow subpoena powers, the threat of perjury, and no possibilty of nepotism.  After all, she is a state employee subject to an investigation regarding the matter the same as any other state employee.  Without an outside investigation; the matter falls on Dr. Hogan since he is the only one at the university level who can do anything.  A full outside investigation by the Inspector General would either clear Dr. Troyer's reputation; or it would find reasons for recinding tenure, and termination.   Leaving the matter in Dr. Hogan's hands gives the impression that things are being covered up again..., and again, and again....    "He said, she said" does not cut it when he insisted that she have tenure, with her big salary before he would come to the university.  It is gratifying that the faculty, and the students have said: Enough is enough; end the scandals, and do something ethical for a change.   

asparagus wrote on January 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

We just cleaned house at the U of I only to find out that the very same scum that we fought so hard to be free from has once again infected our system. Are these ethical lapses characteristic of the mentality of the academic careerist class in this country? How can we  trust Hogan and Kennedy when they are trying so hard to brush this scandal aside.  No one is taking responsibility for this mess. That fact alone is reason to clean house again.