Former UI chief of staff accepts faculty job
URBANA — Former presidential chief of staff Lisa Troyer will be paid $109,000 a year in her new role as a University of Illinois psychology professor, but she also faces a possible ethics review by the campus.
Troyer, who resigned her $200,850-a-year administrative post on Jan. 4 during an investigation into anonymous emails traced to her computer, has accepted the terms offered by the campus for her faculty appointment.
A sociologist by training, Troyer was given a zero-time tenured appointment in psychology shortly after she was hired in July 2010 along with President Michael Hogan. She had held a similar faculty post at the University of Connecticut, where she served as his executive assistant, and also worked with Hogan when he was provost at the University of Iowa, where she earned her tenure.
However, an ethics investigation concluded on Jan. 13 that Troyer had likely posed as a faculty senator in two anonymous emails to try to influence a University Senates Conference report on Hogan’s controversial enrollment management plan, which covers admissions, financial aid and related issues.
Troyer has maintained that she did not write or send the emails, and said she resigned because she could not be effective as chief of staff during the investigation.
"Information about this issue continues to develop and I believe that over time, as the full information comes to light, it will reveal the truth behind this matter. Meanwhile, I'll do my best to serve the University as a teacher and researcher," she said in an email to the News-Gazette late Tuesday.
The campus extended a paid faculty appointment to Troyer on Jan. 17, but she asked for more time to consider the terms, officials said. She signed the letter on Tuesday.
The letter includes a provision stating that “additional reviews of your activities related to the recently completed investigative report may be undertaken, through consultation with appropriate faculty governance committees. You will of course be apprised and engaged as any such reviews are undertaken, and your continued cooperation will be expected and appreciated.”
The letter was signed by interim Provost Richard Wheeler; Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Brian Ross, interim head of the Psychology Department.
“We’ll be looking at potential implications for her status as a faculty member based on what we saw in the review,” Wheeler told The News-Gazette on Tuesday.
Wheeler said his first step will be to consult with the campus Faculty Advisory Committee and decide whether to go forward with a review. Elected by faculty, the committee advises the chancellor and provost on grievances and other faculty matters.
“There are decisions to be made yet,” Wheeler said.
Administrators based Troyer’s salary on the median for other professors in the Psychology Department who received their doctorates and achieved full tenure at roughly the same time as Troyer.
Troyer will not teach this semester, since it has already started, but she will be expected to begin “developing her future research and her teaching agenda and resuming her scholarly activity with the expectation that she would begin teaching in the fall,” said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.
She will be required to provide a report of her activities to Ross on March 15 and May 15, so that the department “can understand your research agenda and begin to identify appropriate teaching assignments for future semesters,” the letter said.
Wheeler wouldn’t say whether Troyer had tried to negotiate for a different salary or employment terms.
“There were some email exchanges, but she signed it as I offered it,” he said.
He said academic administrators typically hold tenured faculty appointments and return to those positions once they leave their administrative jobs.
Their salaries are typically split between their administrative and faculty positions, but that wasn’t done in Troyer’s case so the campus had to formally offer her a salary, Kaler said. Troyer’s zero-time faculty appointment was approved in 2010 by UI trustees as well as the department, college and campus, she said.
Kaler said any review of Troyer’s appointment would likely consider whether she violated campus policies on ethics and appropriate use of electronic communications, as referenced in the investigative report.
“This is a serious matter. The campus wants to fully understand what happened and why, and decide how to proceed,” Kaler said.
UI Chicago Professor Don Chambers, who chairs the University Senates Conference, said Troyer’s hiring is a matter for the Urbana campus, but
he supported the idea of a campus review.
“We would not want our faculty to be seen as a fallback for people who have violated the ethical dimensions of the university,” Chambers said Tuesday, though he noted that Troyer has maintained her innocence.
“I endorse the statement of the campus,” Chambers said.
Faculty leaders have focused more on what they call “a broad pattern of surveillance and intrusion into legitimate faculty governance deliberations” by Hogan in pushing the enrollment management plans. One faculty resolution approved last week cited a “failure of leadership” by the UI president.
The investigative report found no evidence that Hogan knew about the anonymous emails. He later apologized for the incident.