Kennedy's letter to faculty
February 27, 2012
Dear Professor Baym:
Thank you for your letter of Friday, February 24.
I am responding to your letter and intend to meet with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees so that we can discuss the matters which you raise. It is, however, difficult to arrange a time for all of us to convene outside of the regularly scheduled Board meeting, and I did not want to wait until after the March Board meeting to respond to your letter.
As you know, over the last several weeks, I have been involved in nearly constant communication with various University constituents, including senators, faculty, officers and trustees. I write to you today on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.
The preparation and execution of this dialogue is often exhausting in nature and sometimes challenging, but I should make it clear that I greatly appreciate everyone's passion and interest in the future of the University, and I welcome the continued dialogue.
The President and I had a chance to meet with the University Senates Conference early last week, during which much of the dialogue occurred between the Senators, our new Vice President for Academic Affairs, Christophe Pierre, and Avijit Ghosh, the Special Assistant to the President. They have a masterful command of the issues around enrollment management, and their interaction with the University Senates Conference was productive and thought-provoking.
Also last week, I spent some time with the new Vice President for Health Affairs, Skip Garcia. I was reminded how remarkably fortunate we are to have someone of his talent and accomplishments lead what is an increasingly complex clinical and academic enterprise.
In early January, I was made aware of the tremendous accomplishments that have occurred under the leadership of Michael Hites in the information technology group, and earlier this month I was reminded also of the accomplishments which have occurred under the leadership of Maureen Parks in human resources.
Many of you know Larry Schook and are aware of the leadership role that he has assumed and how effective that has been for our research efforts. He has several large projects which should be brought to fruition soon which will contribute mightily to the reputation and stature of the University.
Of course I have the regular opportunity to meet with our new chancellors, Susan Koch in Springfield and Phyllis Wise in Urbana, both of whom have been warmly received by their campuses.
These experiences remind me that we are slowly but steadily building one of the great academic leadership teams in the country.
Many of these people were drawn to the University by its track record, its success, its potential for further greatness and by the reforms that the current President and the Board of Trustees have instituted. We believe that good governance can be a competitive advantage and that a president capable of attracting great talent can make a tremendous difference to the future of the University. We believe President Hogan has been instrumental in attracting this team.
The Board continues to believe that President Hogan has the capacity to attract and retain a great team, and we continue to support his efforts, and we hope you will, too.
The specific points of your concerns with President Hogan's leadership are peripheral to the core values that we think a strong president brings. The fact that each of you is concerned about these points, though, is concerning in and of itself. You are the heart and the soul of the University, and your presence here continues to make the University great.
Therefore, I'd like to address each of the concerns and respond as best as I can to the items, as much as out of respect to you as concern for them.
— The Board is not aware that the President has embraced the trappings of the presidency in a manner other than that which is consistent with his predecessors.
— The current Board prides itself on the manner in which it has embraced good governance, including the use of strong financial controls. We believe our audit and ethics programs are second to none in the state of Illinois. Neither of these functions has identified any issue around spending in the president's office or any lack of financial discipline.
— As it relates to athletics, the Board is unaware of any inappropriate intervention into athletics. In fact, we appreciate President Hogan's leadership, as we replaced both an athletic director and the football coach at a time when we had either an interim chancellor or a chancellor in transition at the Urbana-Champaign campus. President Hogan has also supported other chancellors hiring other high-profile coaches during similar situations on other campuses.
— We are aware that the President has met with the deans. We ourselves have invited many of the deans to our retreats, which is perhaps unprecedented but nonetheless a useful tool for improving the level of dialogue within the University. We are confident now that we have a permanent chancellor at the Urbana-Champaign campus, we have the potential to have a permanent provost there and an appropriate level of dialogue between the President and campus deans will be forthcoming.
— The Board pre-approved the concept of an external enrollment management report, and we were informed by and concurred with the actual consultants. Many campus representatives were interviewed by the consultants, and we are unaware of any concern about the quality of the consultants or the conclusions of the report made during the process or in the immediate period after the report was issued.
— Both the President and I have apologized for the controversy surrounding the anonymous emails. For those of you who have followed the case closely, you will appreciate that, when the anonymous emails came to light, we acted quickly. The President recused himself from oversight of the investigation, we hired external investigators, we gave them full latitude and their report did not sugar-coat anything.
— We continue to believe that President Hogan did not receive any information regarding the University Senates Conference deliberations which he should not have received by virtue of law or propriety. We understand that the University Senates Conference is revisiting its expectations of members as to confidentiality. We will respect the decisions that they make, and we appreciate any clarity that might be forthcoming in this area.
— I acknowledge your continued suspicions around President Hogan's involvement in the email controversy. I can only say that an outside party with full access, without resource constraints and with a compelling mandate to seek the truth concluded that President Hogan was not involved in the creation or distribution of the emails.
— We believe that Lisa Troyer's return to a faculty role at the Urbana-Champaign campus was a product of her employment agreement, which had been developed some 18 months earlier, rather than any pressure exerted by the President in recent weeks or months. The contract is a matter of record.
— We believe the decision regarding whether the campus will embrace her role there is a campus-level decision, and we look forward to supporting that process and whatever conclusion it produces.
You've raised these concerns, and the Board will increase its sensitivity to the areas you have identified.
We continue to believe that the greatest threats to the future of the University are external, and the greatest assets of the University are internal and that each of you is chief among those assets.
I will be sure to share your letter with others to make certain every issue is fully vetted and reviewed.
In addition to the issues outlined in your letter is a larger issue, which is the need for continued dialogue regarding shared governance. There is a need for mutual respect and realization that a collaborative approach is more effective than any other form of leadership.
I assure you that the entire Board of Trustees and senior leadership team are aware of this broader issue. I believe we are making strides to embrace the best aspects of shared governance. My hope is to continue moving forward in this regard.
I intend to use your letter to stimulate discussion the next time I meet with the University Senates Conference (if the USC leadership is amenable) so that we can continue to make improvements and strengthen our University.
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees,
Christopher G. Kennedy
Chair, Board of Trustees