Faculty senate OKs steps for ethics review of Troyer

Faculty senate OKs steps for ethics review of Troyer

URBANA — The campus is moving forward with its ethics review of Lisa Troyer, President Michael Hogan's former chief of staff who now holds a full-time faculty position in the Department of Psychology.

On Monday, interim Provost Richard Wheeler shared with the Urbana senate a document that outlines specific steps for pursuing sanctions short of dismissal against a tenured professor. The senate gave quick approval, reserving the right to review the procedures in the future if needed.

The action does not mean the campus has decided to pursue such sanctions, as outlined in Article 9, Section 6, of the University Statutes, but if the campus does go that route the process will be clear, Wheeler said.

The statutes leave the Article 9 procedures up to the campus, and "those procedures have never been established," Wheeler said.

"There has not been a case pursued since the section of the article itself was established," Wheeler said.

The provisions regarding sanctions less than dismissal date back at least 10 years, faculty senators said.

Article 10 of the statutes, which involves dismissal of a faculty member, 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. Article 9 covers severe sanctions short of dismissal and can include, for example, suspension with or without pay for a period of up to one-half the individual's academic appointment.

The campus senate must be consulted in the establishment of procedures under Article 9, according to the statutes. The document was presented to the senate Monday in order to do just that, said Senate vice chair Joyce Tolliver.

Hogan, who resigned last week but will remain president through June 30, hired Troyer in 2010. A sociologist, her appointment was 100 percent in university administration, but she also was given a zero percent appointment in psychology. Troyer and Hogan worked together at UConn, where he was president, and at the University of Iowa. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Troyer submitted her resignation in early January while the UI was investigating two anonymous emails sent to faculty members of the University Senates Conference in mid-December. An investigation concluded the emails were composed and sent from her laptop. Troyer has said the investigation was mishandled and she did not send the emails.

In the weeks following her resignation as chief of staff, Urbana campus administrators began negotiating the faculty position. She accepted a nine-month appointment in February. Her offer letter included language that said the campus expected her to cooperate with any potential campus review to determine if possible disciplinary action should be taken.

Wheeler said the Article 9 procedures were designed to follow as closely as possible the process laid out in Article 10. That would allow both processes to run concurrently if the campus isn't sure which sanctions to pursue, he said. Both involve consultation with the Faculty Advisory Committee and a hearing before the senate's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, he said.

It just made sense to connect the process to the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, given its expertise with due process and faculty discipline cases, said Professor William Maher, chair of the senate's University Statutes and Senate Procedures Committee. The new procedures protect the university and the faculty member by providing more due process, Maher said.

The process for pursuing Article 9 requires that administrators first hold discussions with the faculty member "looking toward a mutual settlement."

One of the early steps in the process — in which the provost determines cause exists to initiate proceedings under Article 9 and informs the faculty member — has not happened.

However, college and department administrators have met in recent weeks to discuss Troyer's review. Wheeler said Monday that he expected to receive a recommendation shortly from Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who has consulted with faculty advisory committees in the college and the psychology department.

The procedures under Article 9 state that the faculty member has an opportunity to a hearing with the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and that hearing may not be held earlier than 15 days from the date of the notice of the hearing. The hearings are closed.

After the hearing's conclusion, the committee will decide if cause exists, and the provost will then determine which sanctions to impose.

The faculty member can appeal to the chancellor. The decision of chancellor will be final, according to the procedures.

When asked what will happen next, Wheeler said, "We'll have to start making some decisions."

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure currently is hearing an Article 10 case, in which the university is pursuing dismissal of engineering Professor Lou Wozniak, according to law professor Matthew Finkin, who chairs the committee. That case is pending; hearings are expected to continue this month and in April.

"These actual proceedings to dismiss a tenured professor are pretty rare," he said.

Most cases tend to be resolved by the person submitting a resignation in the face of a looming hearing.

"No one wants the publicity or expense," Finkin said.

Comments

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Sid Saltfork wrote on March 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

What would be the sanctions on a zero percent appointment when Troyer started in February; but does not teach a class until the Fall semester?  Would a half year loss of salary ($54,500.00 versus $109,000.00) with a record of unethical behavior result?  In regard to Lou Wozniak given his past; the university is in for a dispute whether "no one wants the publicity or expense", or not.  Both Troyer, and Wozniak are technically state employees.  Why not treat them as state employees facing wrong doing?  The Ethics Rules for state employees should apply to Troyer.  A procedure that has not been used for 10 years with resulting slap on the wrist sanctions handled by academia sents the wrong message in cleaning up the scandal.  Both of them need to go; and everyone knows it.  Of course, it would set a precedent in academia that would rock the boat.

asparagus wrote on March 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Well said Sid.  Troyer has to go.  Do the UI faculty have the spine to sever a tenured faculty member (if in name only).  We will see.