Trustees have Hogan's back

Trustees have Hogan's back

URBANA — Trustees have listened to the concerns of University of Illinois faculty and staff, and board Chairman Christopher Kennedy will talk with President Michael Hogan in the coming days about "the way forward," Kennedy said Thursday.

Trustees support the president, and Hogan is intent on repairing his relationship with faculty, according to a university spokesman, despite some professors' increasing pressure on trustees to end his "failed presidency."

A new letter signed by 130 top faculty urged the board to fire the university president, following recent News-Gazette reports about former chief of staff Lisa Troyer's claims that she continued working after resigning from her position.

The letter was delivered Thursday while the board was in Urbana for a regularly scheduled meeting. Some of that meeting was devoted to a closed-door session during which trustees discussed the president and his performance.

Because they have been on campus in recent days, trustees have had a chance to meet with senior administration and faculty, including some who signed letters to the board, according to Kennedy.

"During our afternoon executive session, we had an opportunity to share the comments that we heard from the university with each other and with the president. We had a private session during which we distilled what we heard from all of the faculty. The university trustees have asked me to enter into a dialogue with the president to provide him a distillation of those thoughts, and over the next few days I intend to do that," Kennedy said.

"He and I will have a dialogue about what we have heard down here to bring clarity to the way forward," he said, declining further comment.

Trustee Tim Koritz said Hogan still has his support and the support of the board.

When asked if Hogan could rebuild the trust of the faculty, Kortiz said, "That's what we're hoping for." And "time will tell" if the president can be successful in doing just that.

"I hope fences can be mended and we can get on with more important tasks we have," he said.

The latest letter follows a similar one from the group sent to the board Feb. 27 that also called for Hogan's departure. On March 5, Kennedy called an emergency board meeting in Chicago to review Hogan's performance.

At that meeting, trustees directed Hogan to rebuild trust with faculty and said they would hear an update from the president at Thursday's meeting.

University spokesman Tom Hardy pointed out the board met 10 days ago, held another meeting today, there will be another in May, and the board's retreat is in July when the president typically has his performance review.

"These are important issues. It warrants a deliberate process, and that is what the board is doing," Hardy said. "There's no point to rush to judgment."

In the new letter, faculty thanked the board for its expeditious response to the earlier letter but criticized Hogan's recent attempts to mend fences with faculty. The letter said the breakdown in shared governance did not stem from a communication problem as Hogan described it last week.

"'Shared governance' for Hogan apparently means explaining to faculty, senators, deans, and chancellors why his way is the right way. It is still a one-way learning experience, a top-down imposition of policy," the letter said.

"This focus on form over substance reveals a truly cynical approach to governance, one which was at the root of Hogan's political and ethical problems," the letter said.

Last week, Hogan issued a universitywide statement saying he regretted the failure in shared governance and he was committed to restoring the trust and teamwork "that will help us achieve the goals that we all share."

However, some faculty, including Kim Graber, a member of the University Senates Conference, responded to that letter by saying they didn't think Hogan could rebuild the trust and he should resign.

In a cover memo to the board, two of the endowed professors, Nigel Goldenfeld and Michael Moore, said the letter was circulated starting Wednesday afternoon. By the time the letter was delivered to trustees around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, 118 professors had signed it. As of 7 p.m., the number reached 130.

"This rate of response of the chaired faculty far surpasses that of our earlier letters to you from this group. It indicates a level of support for the views expressed in our letter, but also the urgency which the chaired faculty attaches to the rapidly unfolding situation, and the need for firm leadership at this point," the professors said.

"Given the challenges that the university faces in an uncertain period for the state of Illinois, we view it as essential that Hogan's failed presidency be seen for what it is, and that a path be forged which can rapidly restore a healthy governance structure."

Trustees said Thursday they had not seen a copy of the latest faculty letter and deferred to Kennedy for any comments.

Hogan also hadn't seen it and declined to comment.

Trustee Lawrence Oliver said other board members agreed with Kennedy's statement following the March 5 board meeting that the need to "improve relations between the president and faculty was a real concern of the board."

"We view the current situation in the same way. There's a lot of actors at play. It doesn't mean we all have exactly the same opinion of every fact," Oliver said.

Professor Nicholas Burbules, vice chairman of the University Senates Conference, said the latest developments heighten the importance of Hogan's upcoming appearance at the March 30 campus senate meeting. The president was invited to answer the criticisms raised by faculty in recent weeks.

"The senate really is committed to fairness and due process," Burbules said. "We owe the president a chance to respond to this in public," to answer questions and explain his actions.

"I think (Hogan) and the board deserve an opportunity to carry out the board's directive," Hardy said. But it's tough to do that, he admitted, "when there's criticism at every turn."

The new letter said all university stakeholders would be served by "rapid and decisive termination."

"A board that does not act when there is a president who is so ethically and reputationally compromised as to be unable to function is one that is, in truth, itself unable to effectively govern the institution it stewards," the letter stated.

The letter also raised concerns about Troyer's efforts to be paid from the time she resigned, Jan. 3, to when she accepted a faculty offer on Feb. 6.

Emails recently released to The News-Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act show that Troyer claimed she continued to work in that period by developing a transition plan for the president's office, helping Hogan respond to FOIA requests and cooperating with an ethics investigation.

"It is difficult to exaggerate the impact that this finding ... is already having on the university community," the letter said.

Don Chambers, a UI Chicago professor and chairman of the University Senates Conference, said he appreciated the fact that Kennedy and the president are having a dialogue; however, new questions have been raised by the recent reports and he hopes that dialogue includes an exploration into "the role of his administration and the real role of Lisa Troyer in policymaking and in decision-making," Chambers said.

Chambers delivered some positive news at the meeting Thursday by announcing the senates conference expects to send a revised enrollment management report to all three campus senates. This document, revised several times in recent weeks, addresses all the major concerns members of the faculty governance group had about the proposal, he said.

Those issues revolved around wanting a faculty liaison to a new policy council that would focus on enrollment management issues, taking rebranding of the university "off the table," and reworking the proposal for an executive director of enrollment management into a possible position in the office of the vice president for academic affairs.

Chambers used the word "joyous" to describe how he felt about the positive outcome, which comes months after a contentious debate on the topic.

The outcome is "a demonstration of shared governance at its best and what can be accomplished when we work together," Chambers said.

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LLP0867 wrote on March 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

Is anyone else really surprised at this???

Denny wrote on March 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

What a mess.  No leadership.  Excuses and ethical cesspools everywhere you look.  Too bad for U of I.

Is there a list published anywhere of the faculty (and any others) that signed the letter asking for Hogan's removal?

dw wrote on March 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

"I hope fences can be mended and we can get on with more important tasks we have," -- Tim Koritz, BoT

Clearly at least this member of the BoT does not recognize that this crisis caused by lack of leadership IS the most important task he has at hand.  The BoT is directly responsible for the president and how he treats his subordinates.  To suggest that there are currently more important tasks for the BoT to be dealing with at the U of I shows a complete lack of understanding what his role as a BoT member is...

urbanaman wrote on March 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

I was out the other day and thought I caught a whiff of the south farms. Turns out, Hogan and the BoT were all just gathered together in the same room over on campus.

Jam wrote on March 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

1.  I really do hope these petitions, letters, etc. are not being produced during work hours and using UI equipment to produce and transmit them.

2.  This board was established to bring the UI back on track from some previous embarrassments.  It is evident that the faculty did not like the previous President and ran him off (how much did that cost?) and now they are trying to run this one off (what gives?).  The tale is wagging the dog on our college compuses.  Liberals not liking liberals. 



ddf1972 wrote on March 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm

There is a tale, indeed, but I think we are getting a tall one.  As an alum, twice over, soon to be 3 times, I have been embarassed from afar by these ridiculous goings-on.  Get some accountability and leadership from the top, and get on with the business of being a major university, instead of trying to deflect the latest scandal or spin it in an advantageous way.  UI has been so severly besmirched I am not sure it will ever truly recover.

chambanaman wrote on March 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Are you lisa troyer?

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Some may have assumed that the Board of Trustees did not know what they were getting when they hired Hogan.  It is clear now that they knew exactly what they were getting.  They wanted someone to push their agenda thru regardless of the objections.  They will back him because he will continue to do their bidding.  They would have preferred not to have the publicity that has occurred.  Hogan's arrogance, and posibble deceit, will be tolerated by the Board of Trustees as long as he gets the results they want.  This is more than unethical behavior, violation of state rules by employees, and deceit.  This is about achieving an end; not the means in achieving it.  Hogan can smile, and spin; but it is clear now that no one will believe him when he speaks.  His word is no longer any good.  All of the news may go away; but everytime he interacts with people; they will know him for what he is.  Commencement will be a hoot.  He better buy a big mirror because his self image will not be the image that everyone else sees.

syzlack wrote on March 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Oh yeah commencement will be a hoot.  The students are up in arms.  Why just the other day the big anti-Hogan rally drew 12 to 20 students out of the some 40,000 at UIUC.  This whole insurgency has far less support than some of the disgruntled faculty imagine, and far less in the general public, particularly outside Champaign, than the "outraged" commentators here think.  The board is not going to be bullied by a few malcontents.  Yer dreaming Sid.

OnCampus wrote on March 17, 2012 at 12:03 am

Sid said nothing about the students. And this "whole insurgency" has far MORE support than syzlack can imagine, because there are many nonfaculty employees at Urbana-Champaign ("flagship," anyone? Anyone?) and in Chicago closely following what is released about Mike Hogan and Lisa Troyer. I'm going to guess syzlack isn't an Illinois alum...

OnCampus wrote on March 17, 2012 at 12:03 am

"When asked if Hogan could rebuild the trust of the faculty, Kortiz said, 'That's what we're hoping for.'"

And I'm hoping I'll win the lottery!

Apparently, faculty interest in this issue is measured by letters sent to the BoT with x numbers of signatures by y kinds of faculty. Student interest is measured by how many show up at one protest. As for the rest of us (i.e., involved with the University of Illinois in some other capacity, including academic professional and civil service staff and alumni) is...negligble? Irrelevant? Something else?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign did a very good job of educating me on how to review existing data and objectively draw conclusions from those data. Until additional data are provided, I'm forced to conclude that, yes, those e-mail messages were sent by Lisa Troyer and that Mike Hogan knew about them. In other words, the existing data do not lead me to believe that either of them are free from accusations of acting unethically.

It's not just the trust of the faculty, folks.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

Most people do not comment in the media.  Most students do not protest.  Yet, when you mention this scandal in public places; the majority of people think the whole thing stinks.  They feel that it is corruption as usual at the U. of I.   Civil service employees are disgusted.  Academic employees are disgusted.  Students are disgusted.  The public is disgusted.  Most feel that nothing will change at the university based on previous scandals.  They are disgusted; and resigned to the image of the U. of I., and Urbana-Champaign sinking lower in it's reputation.  If you travel to Indy, St. Louis, and even Arizona, and are asking where you are from; the response from the locals there is "oh, I have heard about the U. of I., and Illinois".  Illinois is famous for gangsters, corrupt politicians, and the scandal ridden U. of I.   The hypocrisy of the Board of Trustees has cheapened the image further.   Hogan will never live this down.  His legacy as an educator will be of deceit, and no ethics.  

OnCampus wrote on March 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

And greed. Don't forget greed.