URBANA — Lisa Troyer resigned as chief of staff shortly before midnight on Jan. 3, but she has continued working for University of Illinois President Michael Hogan and wants to be paid for that time.
Since her resignation, Troyer said, she has written a transition plan detailing how certain tasks should be handled, drafted remarks for the president, developed protocols on responding to personnel matters such as requests for promotions and reviewed Hogan's emails in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, among other things, according to documents obtained by The News-Gazette through FOIA requests.
The newly disclosed documents show the former chief of staff growing frustrated with university officials when she was not paid for Jan. 4 to Feb. 6, the transition time between when she resigned and when she accepted a full-time faculty position in psychology on the Urbana campus. The documents also show a reluctance on the Department of Psychology's part to have Troyer being paid "that much money and doing nothing this term," as well as concerns about having Troyer teach undergraduates while the campus conducts a review of her alleged ethical lapses.
According to the university, Troyer was paid $10,361 for her final 13 days as chief of staff, from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3, plus $17,880 for unused vacation days as an administrator, and then $2,221 for eight days as a professor of psychology from Feb. 6 to Feb. 15. Because Troyer has a nine-month faculty appointment, she is not eligible for vacation days, meaning her vacation could not be transferred or carried over, according to university spokesman Tom Hardy. When staff on 12-month appointments move to nine-month appointments, vacation days have to be paid out, he said.
As for the time from Jan. 4 to Feb. 6, Troyer is lobbying the university to pay up. As chief of staff, Troyer earned $200,850. Her salary as a professor is $109,000.
"I resigned my chief of staff duties; I did not resign from the University or even the University Administration," Troyer wrote on Feb. 16 to human resources administrator Maureen Parks.
After Troyer pressed university officials on why she hadn't been paid yet for that transition period, Parks asked Troyer to provide additional information on what she had been doing since she resigned as chief of staff.
"Suffice it to say that tying up loose ends and doing my best to make sure that the president has the transition plan and support he needs to continue to do the great job he's been doing has not been a trivial task," Troyer told Parks in a lengthy Feb. 16 email. "As chief of staff, I regularly put in 70+ hours per week. It is a 24/7/365 job. Preparing for and overseeing the transition is a full-time job in itself," Troyer wrote.
Earlier, Troyer had raised the issue of back pay after Parks had resolved Troyer's questions about a possible lapse in insurance coverage: "If you have any questions or need some higher authority or funding source on this, please contact the president. He and others reporting to his office can verify the work I performed and can also confirm that the expectation that I would be smoothly transitioned to a faculty appointment. ... I expect the pay situation to be resolved in 24-hours. Please get back to me by no later than Wednesday start of business."
'An HR issue'
On Tuesday, Hogan told The News-Gazette he will not be the one making the decision about whether Troyer will be paid for the weeks between her resignation and her faculty appointment.
"I've made it perfectly clear ... she needs to deal directly with our HR people," he said. "It's an HR issue. They are and should be the ones making the decision."
An email from Parks, the executive director of human resources and associate vice president, indicates that she felt Hogan should make that call. On Feb. 15, Parks said, "Lisa is saying that in the interim she continued to work on University of Illinois business. If she was working at the direction of University of Illinois management OR we accepted her work during this time frame, we may be obligated to pay her. Obviously, this could be controversial and could create administrative complexities that would take some time to work through. I have asked her for information regarding the time spent and the type of work performed. I will need you to verify this once she replies and then for you to authorize payment to her."
Hogan later replied, "If she worked perhaps she should be paid for it, but in the end it must be your call not mine."
Asked for clarification, Hardy said Tuesday, "I don't think we've gotten to that point yet. Lisa's request is under review. No determination's been made on it."
Troyer did not respond to requests for an interview.
When Hogan hired Troyer in 2010, her appointment was 100 percent in university administration, but she also was given a zero percent appointment in psychology. A sociologist by training, Troyer received her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She and Hogan worked together at the University of Connecticut, where he was president, and the University of Iowa.
She submitted her resignation while the UI was investigating two anonymous emails sent to faculty members of the University Senates Conference in mid-December. In her resignation email to Hogan, Troyer said "despite my own convictions, it has become clear to me that I am unable to serve the University of Illinois in my current capacity as well as I have over the last year-and-a-half. Please let me know how I can help to transition the Office to ensure its continued effectiveness."
The anonymous emails, sent on Dec. 12, concerned the senates conference's discussion on enrollment management and changes proposed by Hogan in areas of recruiting students, admissions, financial aid and more.
The 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 has said the investigation was mishandled and she did not send the emails.
In the weeks following her resignation as chief of staff in university administration, Urbana campus administration began negotiating the faculty position. An offer was initially extended to her on Jan. 17, but not accepted by Troyer until Feb. 6.
"Note also that the president and I discussed the possibility of re-assignment within the administration before a faculty appointment was offered. I researched and prepared documentation suggesting some options at his request, although he has not elected to pursue those options at this time," she wrote to Parks.
"The president and others, however, have taken me up on my offer to do all I can to assist with the transition throughout the entire period from 1/3-2/9. In fact, it continues through this day," she wrote to Parks on Feb. 16.
But Hogan told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he did not offer Troyer a job in university administration and there was no expectation that she would get one.
Asked if he requested Troyer to do any work for him after her resignation, Hogan said she prepared a transition plan.
"She spent a lot of time on the investigation and making herself available to people," he added, and said he also asked her to help him locate documents from time to time. The "big thing" she spent her time on, though, was the investigation, he said.
Troyer's using university time "to get the message out about what really happened" was exactly what at least one campus administrator did not want to see happen.
Brian Ross, interim head of the Department of Psychology, met with Troyer on Feb. 8 to discuss her future with the department. He later wrote to Steve Leigh, an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, that he had doubts she would be able to handle eight weeks of teaching this spring, an option they considered.
"Some faculty are very unhappy that she is making that much salary and doing nothing this term," Ross wrote. Troyer could teach an undergraduate seminar on group problem-solving, but "if she were to resign partway through the course, we might be stuck," Ross wrote. In addition, Ross said he was not sure whether the department wanted to put Troyer in front of undergraduates before her case is reviewed.
"If I were a parent paying tuition, having someone who is under review for ethical lapses might bother me," he wrote.
After meeting with her, Ross told Leigh on Feb. 8, "her plan is to spend time in the next few weeks getting the message out about what really happened."
Leigh suggested Troyer develop online courses for the department — not spend university time working on her exoneration.
"I'd like to be clear and indicate that Dr. Troyer must not use either time at work (40 hours) or university resources to get 'the message out about what really happened.' I presume this is understood. I think development of online resources will be rewarding and provide our students with valuable educational opportunities and resources," Leigh wrote to Ross on Feb. 8.
Language on ethics review
Documents also show Troyer objected to language in the offer letter that stated additional campus reviews into the anonymous emails may occur and her "continued cooperation is expected and appreciated."
On Jan. 26, interim Provost Richard Wheeler told Troyer it would be "irresponsible" not to include such language in the letter "that reflects something of the unique circumstances surrounding your assumption of faculty position."
"Should you decide to accept appointment to a salaried tenured position on the Psychology faculty, I am confident that the Department of Psychology and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will expect a full review of the implications of the recently released investigative report," he wrote.
Troyer responded that she would "discuss this with my advisory team," and later informed Wheeler that her legal team would henceforth be communicating with the university.
She had also challenged the $109,000 salary offered by the campus and asked Wheeler for more details about how it was derived.
In the end, she accepted the salary, and the offer letter did include the wording about the campus review. And the campus recently began conducting its own review of Troyer following procedures outlined under university statutes on 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.