Former EIU official fined for state ethics violations
A former Eastern Illinois University testing center director has been fined for ethics violations stemming from a state investigation into the hiring of her husband to administer tests to students.
The Illinois Ethics Commission late last month fined Debra Hopgood, former head of EIU's Office of Academic Assessment and Testing, $1,500 for failing to cooperate with and obstructing an investigation by the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General. She resigned from the university in June 2010.
Over a two-year period at EIU, Hopgood and her husband boosted their income by more than $19,000 as Hopgood hired her husband to administer tests, even though he was not certified to do so, according to documents filed in the case. Employees who administered or proctored exams received payment in addition to their university salaries, according to the state.
EIU declined comment on the ruling.
"This is an issue between Ms. Hopgood and the Executive Ethics Commission," said Vicki Shaw-Woodard, coordinator of public information at EIU.
The office, now called the Office of Testing and Evaluation, is responsible for scanning tests and handling surveys and evaluations. Office staff also administer tests like the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, the ACT Residual and College Level Examination Program, according to Shaw-Woodard.
When the state began an investigation, according to the office of executive inspector general, Hopgood allegedly made false statements to investigators, reportedly saying that assigning an assistant chief administrator to proctor exams was not within her discretion; that despite her repeated requests, no one else on staff wanted to do that job; and that she and her husband were present at an exam in August 2008, and finally that she never used her university credit card to buy non-work related items.
The state maintains, through its investigation and through testimony from former colleagues, that contrary to statements Hopgood made, choosing her husband to serve as the assistant chief test administrator was within her control and authority and that the position was sought after by other employees in the office who were willing and qualified to serve, and that on the day of an exam, Aug. 8, 2008, she and her husband were not at the exam.
Before her resignation, Hopgood had been employed at EIU for at least 10 years, according to the university.
Hopgood is now an employee at Carle in Urbana; she has a zero-time, nonsalaried appointment with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Medicine's affiliate program with Carle Foundation Hospital's Family Residency Program. She is not paid by the UI, according to the UI.