Hogan may recuse himself from Troyer case

As the campus review of Lisa Troyer gets under way, University of Illinois President Michael Hogan told The News-Gazette he is hoping for a "reasonable resolution in a reasonable period of time."

Although campus officials have not said if they will pursue sanctions, dismissal or other actions against Hogan's former chief of staff, in an interview with The News-Gazette this week Hogan said he may recuse himself from the process if the university seeks Troyer's dismissal.

University statutes require the president to initiate any dismissal proceedings against a tenured professor, in consultation with the Faculty Advisory Committee, whereas lesser dismissals are overseen by the campus chancellor and provost.

Because of his friendship with Troyer and the fact that she reported directly to him, Hogan said his inclination would be "to delegate my responsibility to someone else."

"We are not there yet. And I don't want to say this is what I'm going to do. That won't even be wholly my decision. I'd have to discuss it with the board. So it's very important that I make it clear that there's a big difference from the inclination of the moment and what actually might transpire if it gets to that point," Hogan said.

In his interview with The News-Gazette, the UI president said he still speaks with Troyer, whom he has known for a decade since their days of working together at the University of Iowa. She has told him, as she has many others, she did not write the anonymous emails sent to faculty leaders back in December.

Hogan declined to say whether or not he believed her and that the situation was an ongoing "personnel question in active due process."

Troyer resigned in early January as chief of staff but has held a zero-time tenured appointment in psychology since she joined the university in 2010. She submitted her resignation while the UI was investigating two anonymous emails sent to faculty members of the University Senates Conference in mid-December. The emails concerned the group's discussion on enrollment management and changes proposed by Hogan in areas of recruiting students, admissions, financial aid and more.

The results from that investigation, conducted by outside legal and forensic data firms at the direction of the UI ethics office and legal counsel, concluded the emails were composed and sent from Troyer's laptop. There was no evidence of hacking or that the laptop was improperly accessed, investigators found.

Troyer released a public statement to The News-Gazette last week claiming the UI's investigation was mishandled.

When asked about Troyer's recent statement, Hogan said the university conducted a "very quick, very thorough investigation."

"That investigation is still a document among many documents in a process that is still under way and I'd prefer not to really comment on it right now," he said.

Although she resigned as chief of staff, Troyer still held the tenured faculty position and last month she accepted the campus's offer of a position as a full-time professor in the psychology department for $109,000. She previously earned $200,850 as chief of staff.

Urbana's interim Provost Richard Wheeler said Thursday that the review process is moving forward as the campus maps out the steps required under university statutes covering potential sanctions against tenured faculty. Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is talking with faculty in Troyer's academic units, and Wheeler is consulting with the campus senate.

Article 9 of the university statutes addresses sanctions short of dismissal and requires that procedures "adopted by the campus vice president/chancellor in consultation with the campus senate are followed." Sanctions can include suspension with or without pay for a period of up to one-half the individual's academic appointment.

Article 10 involves dismissal of a faculty member and lays out a clear set of procedures requiring a hearing before the senate's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure and, if the individual requests it, a hearing before the board of trustees. Dismissal may be sought only if a faculty member has been "grossly neglectful of or grossly inefficient" in the performance of university duties, can no longer be relied upon to perform university duties "in a manner consonant with professional standards of competence and responsibility," or illegally advocates the overthrow of government by force or violence.

Hogan said Troyer has already been penalized once, by the reduction in her salary.

"We've been friends for a long time. So I'm sorry to see what she's going through and I'm very sorry to see what the university's going through."

Hogan said he still talks to her and "she's still a friend."

"I do try to give her a call once in a while just to see how she's doing," he said. He's also touched base with her when he needed to find a document or other information.

"She helped me out. She's always been willing to do that," he said.

As chief of staff, Troyer had "enormously good research skills" and often acted like a "traffic cop," Hogan said, reminding him where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing.

Since Troyer's resignation, Hogan said, he's distributed her work to others in the office, including former Vice President Avijit Ghosh, a part-time special assistant to the president. (Ghosh also has a 50 percent appointment in the College of Business, where he was dean before becoming a vice president.)

Hogan described Troyer as having good interpersonal skills and as someone who "kept me on track and on target."

"It's a gap that at some point has to be filled with someone with maybe the same skill set," he said.

But don't expect a new chief of staff to be named soon. Hogan will "wait and see" on hiring a replacement, though at some point in the future he will have to do that, he said.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on March 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The old Pontius Pilate routine is played again.  One half of her appointment time is what?  She resigned from her Chief of Staff position when?  She was appointed a tenured professor in Psychology when her degree is in Sociology.   She was appointed in Psychology when?  Gee... her suspension would amount to this Spring semester which she did not teach?   The U. of I., the Flagship of Illinois Higher Education, continues in it's pay offs, and preference to cover up scandals.  Leadership sometimes means conduct above friendship.  Hogan's statements only add proof to his inability to lead.  Based on the outside investigation, Dr. Troyer violated her ethics as a state employee.  After all this manure, and cost; she should be dismissed.  Hogan's lack of leadership, deception, and nepotism proves that he should be dismissed also.  It appears the State Ethics Rules do not apply to administrators.  Ethics violations only apply to the peons.  When this scandal seems to sink below disgusting, it only gets worse.  If he cannot lead; this whole matter should be turned over to the State's Inspector General for a complete investigation of both Hogan, and Troyer. 

Alexander wrote on March 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

What does he mean "may"? After all the stuff of the past week, couldn't he just say "will"? Obviously there's a conflict of interest, or at the very least, the appearance of one.

hyena wrote on March 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

"Hogan said Troyer has already been penalized once, by the reduction in her salary."

> She was NOT penalized. The terms of her contract were enforced, as we were repeatedly told, once she stepped down from her COS position. That a tenured faculty position is paid less than an administrative one is a fact that she knew when she signed that contract. This comment is insulting to many hard-working tenured faculty and many other university employees who will never reach that level of compensation and would view it as a windfall, not a penalty.

"We've been friends for a long time. So I'm sorry to see what she's going through and I'm very sorry to see what the university's going through." Hogan said he still talks to her and "she's still a friend."

> Conflict of interest, right there. The only correct response is for Hogan to recuse himself. If it is so hard to understand, he can always ask the Ethics Officer to set up remedial training for him. The longer he waits to reach the correct decision, the less trustworthy he appears.

"She helped me out. She's always been willing to do that," he said.

>You don't say...

 

GoingtoHeck wrote on March 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

"Hogan said Troyer has already been penalized once, by the reduction in her salary."

 

Agreed.  Troyer was NOT penalized!  She resigned, for heaven's sake!  She SHOULD be out on the streets.  The tenured faculty position was a bonus for her, not a punishment!  Geez.

Lostinspace wrote on March 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

Once Emile Zola exclaimed "J'accuse!"

Mr. Hogan prefers "Je me récuse"

My hands are clean

I'll keep my routine

To take charge I simply refuse

catharsisnow wrote on March 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

It is important to point that he has failed to apologize for his office's role in crafting a fraudulently called "external" review of enrollment management. That's not a "communication shoftfall" Mr. President. We hire a few of our friends and contacts to form an "external" review team and then we edit drafts of the report... Way to go! This happened under Hogan's watch and it transcends the "anonymous e-mails" scandal. According to the February 18, 2012 article published in the News Gazette:

"The external reviewers' report was edited several times by Lisa Troyer, Hogan's former chief of staff, before it was submitted to faculty and trustees for review."

This is not a "breakdown" in the shared governance system.

A truly sincere apology would have included this important failure in leadership. By omitting this, administrators, faculty, students, staff and alumni of all three Universities that comprise the Un. of Illinois System should continue to be infuriated and demand a better return-on-investment for the $650,000+/year that President Hogan earns annually.