Time to let go of Troyer probe

Time to let go of Troyer probe

When the war is over, it's important to stop fighting.

With all the public bickering and palace intrigue, it's been a rough few months for the University of Illinois.

But now that UI President Michael Hogan has announced that he's stepping down June 30 and university trustees have designated the widely respected Robert Easter to succeed him, it appears that the ever-stormy seas might be starting to calm.

Everyone should hope so. The last thing the UI needs now is more discord.

That's why it is incumbent that Easter and Chancellor Phyllis Wise meet with the appropriate faculty members to negotiate a cease-fire in the planned ethics review of Lisa Troyer, Hogan's former chief of staff who resigned her post after being implicated in the anonymous emails escapade.

This kind of inquiry is so rare that, even if carefully done, it could cause more trouble than it solves. Frankly, it looks like a vendetta.

The News-Gazette has previously indicated that it would be best, considering all that has happened, if Troyer would find another job in a more hospitable locale. She has fine professional credentials that many institutions would covet. But Troyer has no real place at the UI.

She's been joined professionally with Hogan at the Universities of Iowa, Connecticut and Illinois. Now that he's leaving as the UI's chief executive, there's no reason for her to stick around.

But contracts are contracts, and Troyer's provides for a faculty appointment in the event she left the chief of staff post. In other words, she has a legal claim to a position and a generous six-figure income and, no doubt, will fight zealously to protect those rights.

Does the UI really need a skirmish over this?

It should be pretty clear to everyone that Troyer doesn't want to teach at the UI, even if she has the legal right to a position. The UI is best served by negotiating her departure.

There is no question that Hogan, with Troyer acting as his consigliere, stirred considerable resentment on campus from faculty and staff members who felt ignored, patronized or bullied.

Troyer sowed the seeds of her own demise with her anonymous emails to a university committee, the discovery of which resulted in her resignation as chief of staff. Hogan, too, fell as the results of self-inflicted wounds.

So what really is the point of continuing to pursue Troyer when the fight is over? Nothing worth having can be gained from this short-sighted ethics probe, particularly considering that Troyer already has suffered a significant decline in both reputation and income.

The UI faces many serious problems as it continues to wrestle with the fallout from the state's fiscal problems. Now under new leadership provided by Easter and Wise, it has a chance to attack them in a collegial fashion with full faculty participation, and it would be best if unnecessary distractions are minimized or eliminated.

Considered in that light, it's time to back off from the Troyer probe and focus on the big picture.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions


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read the DI wrote on April 03, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You goofballs -- you're the ones that poured truckloads of fuel on the flames, and now you are saying it's a meaningless battle.


What on earth could you be thinking?

readone wrote on April 03, 2012 at 7:04 pm

If this had been any other employee of the University, there would be no talk of dropping the matter.  That employee would already be unemployed.  There would have been no negotiation to get them to resign.  They also would not have been allowed to continue working in the office so that they could then asked to be paid for that work. 

So, no the matter should not be dropped until Troyer is gone without any extra benefits.  She should be treated as any employee would be treated.

mcleanm72 wrote on April 03, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I have to agree with "Read the DI' on this one.  The N-G has been the mouth piece for those trying to run Troyer out of town since January.  Now, all of a sudden the ethics investigation is short sighted and the university has a vendetta.  Something doesn't smell right here.  Anything else you want to share?

morgan62 wrote on April 03, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I agree.  What has changed?    Why the about face?

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 04, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Well, the NG has caused controversy on Dr. Troyer again.  The opinion, also, places the ball in the U. of I.'s court.  The opinion has reminded the readers that the matter of Dr. Troyer has not been resolved.  Now, the U. of I. will be dealing with the matter in an more transparent manner.  The story should stay alive.  The outcome will be either a one-rule-for-everyone policy; or the same old, same old pay off for misconduct.  Any bets which way it will go?

mcleanm72 wrote on April 04, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Clearly there is more to this story then meets the eye.  I guess we will see  if the university starts dealing with it transparently.  If so, maybe the misconduct will be revealed.  Time will tell. 

syzlack wrote on April 05, 2012 at 9:04 am

Yes there is much more than meets the eye to all this.  And you can be assured that the N-G will not pry the lid off. Not that they're hiding something, although they would  if it pleased their political interests; they don't have the wherewithall to do it.  Hogan was simply a punching bag and a scapegoat and a tool.  Troyer is irrelevant. The real battles are elsewhere and over for now, unless Fitzgerald gets into it, and he could, although I doubt he will. But the beast in the closet won't go away and it'll get out again.  The "prestigious faculty" have won this round, but in the long run it may be a pyrrhic victory.  Support for UIUC is erroding, and in the back hallways of Springfield, Chicago and elsewhere, the tales are told.  The BOT has been circumspect in its comments, but is not pleased.  Higher education in Illinois needs a serious restructuring.

mankind wrote on April 05, 2012 at 9:04 am

I fully and wholeheartedly disagree. No more negotiating, no more golden parachutes for corrupt administrators who drag down the entire university with their actions. Lisa Troyer needs to be exorcised in a very public manner to let it be known that beneath all the layers of junk and dingbat appointees there are an overwhelming number of good people who simply have had enough of this crap.

syzlack wrote on April 05, 2012 at 1:04 pm

If you want to pin all the sins of the previous administration, and of past and current UIUC administrators and faculty on her and set her on fire to appease the gods, so be it.  But as far as I know she has not been convicted of anything in a court of law, nor has she admitted wrongdoing.  Not to say she's innnocent; I don't know.  But assuming she is guilty of sending a bogus email, where is that "crime" on the spectrum from Blago's politicking (14 years in the fed pen), Richard Herman's politicking (quarter million dollar salary, and teaching one on-line course in Chicago that nobody signs up for), and taking home pencils with University of Illinois embossed on them?  I'll say it one more time.  This particular set-to has absolutely nothing to do with ethics, except in the most tangential sense of a staff person being less than honest, if true.  The real parties in this flap are the Board of Trustess, representing the citizens of Illinois, and the faculty, representing themselves.

read the DI wrote on April 05, 2012 at 9:04 pm

You are right that all this lies at the feet of the Board.

But insofar as Troyer is concerned, I'm sorry but an in-depth investigation found that, assuming the nonexistance of malicious ghosts, she clearly was the one who sent the emails, and then she lied about it in an interview with the NG, which led to the unprecedented move by the UI to take to the NG message board to dispute her, claim by claim. Given the nature of universities to avoid litigation at almost any cost, that doesn't sound like the UI harbors any doubts she was the sender.

So is she guilty of a crime? Legally, who knows. In the world of academia, where personal ethics are a foundation of scientific inquiry, however, she's beyond guilty. Unlike industry, in academia you get in big trouble for doing things like not telling the truth. And that's the world she's in. What Herman, Blago or the rest of them did is grist for the mill, but not in any way germane. And keep in mind this proved to be the tipping point for Hogan, too. To suggest Troyer is the only fatted calf slayed here is way wrong. There's been a lot of carnage, starting with Herman and White and including several former trustees.







syzlack wrote on April 06, 2012 at 11:04 am

It lies at the feet of the Board and the faculty.  No matter the final disposition, the case of Troyer is a bit of a sideshow.  Some people clearly want their pound of flesh, but she'll be O.K. one way or another.  The issue is about UIUC's relationship to the citizens of Illinois.  To oversimplify, the Board wants it to be more responsive to the diverse needs of the state, the faculty wants to preserve and advance its allegedly elite status, which is rewarded with esteem and higher salaries, but is pretty much not earned through teaching and service.  There are numerous people on campus who would like nothing better than for UIUC to become essentially a private school. 

And what Blago, Herman and the rest of them did is most certainly germane.  This is one story over time, starting with the betrayal of Nancy Cantor by Blago et al., the rise of Cantor's provost, Herman, and the subsequent politicking and ratings gaming, leading to latest admissions scandal at the law school, and Hogan's immediate review of their records back to the start of the dean who Herman picked, whose husband is Michael Moore, who was the ringleader to get Hogan canned.  If you think none of this is related, you don't know how this campus works and what the dominant thinking is there about value, and dare I say, ethics.  If you don't know, you are certainly not alone, since the coverage of politics and education, particularly UIUC, in this state is beyond abysmal. Nothing but stenography.

mankind wrote on April 06, 2012 at 11:04 am

Maybe you don't read the commentary about the university every time something like Lisa Troyer happens. You may call it a sideshow but it has direct implications for the university. Why? Because every time it happens the legions rise up and denounce the university as corrupt and nothing more than a tax-funded cash cow for lazy professors and fat cat administrators. The countless things that the university does right -- it's loaded with top-ranked academic programs, and its services for the disabled are second to none, just to name a couple -- are ignored in their indignation. Nevermind the fact that most people at the university never even see the Hogans or Troyers on campus, much less feel their influence on their work. Doesn't matter -- everyone at the university hears how horrible it's become, the public hears it, and the legislators who determine funding hear it. And that's just the way it is. The juicy news gets all the attention. So this is the shark tank that the university has to swim through, and if nothing less than a public firing can prove critics wrong, that's just the way it has to be to protect the whole enterprise.  

read the DI wrote on April 06, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hogan's failure to immediately fire Troyer upon receiving the third-party report says more about Hogan than it does about Troyer.

But had Troyer been any other employee working in any other office, this would not have risen to the front page of the local paper, no more so than had it happened at Solo Cup or Herff Jones.

The NG and some faculty members think Troyer is the smoking gun. If, as you say (and I agree), the problems are much deeper than that, then there was no reason to get caught up in the daily soap opera surrounding Troyer. My guess is the NG was hoping some details of a possible affair between her and Hogan would emerge. Too bad.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 05, 2012 at 1:04 pm

syzlack is right about the BOT agenda.  Hogan was supposed to accomplish it.  Now, that he has failed miserably; it is left to Easter, and Wise.  The agenda has not changed.  The battle between the BOT, and the U.I.U.C. faculty will continue.  The union issue is still there.  The "diversity" plan is still there.  The BOT has left the matter of Dr. Troyer to the faculty.  As much as the faculty wants to boot her out; they must be thinking about contracts, and tenure.  At least in the process of selling newspapers; the NG is keeping this story in the public eye.  The ball is now in the faculty's court.  Will they convict, or acquit Troyer? 

read the DI wrote on April 06, 2012 at 11:04 am

What the NG should be embarrased about is that the matter of what Troyer did was an everyday type of workplace occurence. Should she have been fired? Yes. But should it have ended up as a daily item in the NG? Of course not. People do stupid, petty things at work every day. Because it's the UI, it's news? Hardly. This was not Watergate.


The NG looks awfully petty in all of this.


cruieo wrote on April 05, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Sid, I think you are missing the whole point of the NG article.  Convicting Troyer is the wrong question.  The question is should the faculty or the board (or maybe both) be the ones on trial?

wayward wrote on April 06, 2012 at 12:04 pm

From my perspective, the problems with Troyer remaining at UI are the embarrassment, the money, and the potential impact on morale for other university employees.  Her judgment doesn't seem to be that good, and it's hard to imagine her gaining much respect as a researcher at this point.  As a full professor in the psychology department, she may teach a couple of classes a semester, but that will probably be pretty much it.  Although her new salary is less than she made as chief of staff, it's still appreciably more than many UI employees make.  In fact, even if she got six months unpaid suspension, she would do nothing for six months, little for the other six, and still make more than some full-time employees.  As other posters pointed out, Troyer and some of the "golden parachute" deals could used as poster children by the university's critics.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 06, 2012 at 2:04 pm

My opinion on Dr. Troyer remains the same as when the scandal first broke.  She is a state employee.  Regardless of her granted tenure, and contract; she is a state employee.  The investigations indicated that the false e-mails were sent from her computer while it was in her possession.  How many administrators, and legislators get off when they committ unethical acts?  There is the State of Illinois Ethics Rules.  Every state, and university employee is required to complete a simple ethics test annually.  Sure, the test is a joke; but it confirms that you understand, and will follow ethical behavior.  Any other state, or university employee would have been fired.  Enough with the rules for the peons; and no rules for the higher ups!  The rules apply to all.  The whole matter should have been taken out of the U.of I.'s hands due to her relationship with the university president.  She should either resign; or be fired!  My opinion has not changed on that part of the scandal.  The blame for the issue between the BOT, and the faculty falls on both groups.  Time will tell what happens with that. 

syzlack wrote on April 06, 2012 at 4:04 pm

"the investigations indicated that the false e-mails were sent from her computer..."

Well, that's what the prosecution says.  Does the defense get a say, or is the case closed?  To hell with the rule of law and presumptions of innocence. We know she is a witch and we will have our pound of flesh!  Something is not right here.

read the DI wrote on April 06, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Give us a break. She took to the airwave to proclaim her innocence, and claimed she was prevented contractually from speaking. Then a UI spokesperson then said there was no such agreement. She has had every opportunity to tell her side, and has avoided doing so at all cost. She is GUILTY.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 08, 2012 at 9:04 am

"Something is not right here."  You betcha.  What is not right here is the continued pay offs for wrong doing.  The faculty has a decision to make.  A slap on the wrist, or nothing being done.  Even politicians, and their aides resign rather than face termination for false e-mails.  This does not happen in academia.  Academia gets a slap on the wrist; or a crushy job with a good salary.  One result of this latest university scandal has been increased public awareness of the archaic world of academia. This is not a "witch hunt".  It is the expectation that unethical behavior will be punished even if it is only a slap on the wrist.  Only in academia would this be a slap on the wrist.  However; academia, and the "freedom of speech" within it must be protected.  What is really being protected?  Is "freedom of speech being protected; or is tenure with no restraints being protected?

asparagus wrote on April 06, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I'm concerned about the double standard for employees low and high at U of I.  Don't make me take a thirty minute ethics exam each year that promises one set of rules, and then let people like Hogan and Troyer, who should be ethical examplars for the rest of us, slide when they violate the rules.

This also happens with conflict of interest (COI). There are all kinds of examples of professors at U of I that have one foot on campus and another in some startup company. They get all kinds of sweet COI waivers so they can contribute to "economic development."  Meanwhile, the work that they and their students and academic professionals in their research groups gets funneled into their companies and the profits go into their pockets and the pockets of local insider "investors" (with typically a very small royalty back to the university of which an even smaller amount MAY trickle back to those employees if the Office of Tech. Mgt. is feeling generous).

Let's see some secretary or janitor or groundskeeper get a deal like that.


read the DI wrote on April 06, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I am as anxious as you to hear a Ph.D. in pyschology explain how a computer that never left her possession somehow sent anonymous emails to other faculty members concerning an issue that only a relative handful of persons, including herself, were privvy to.

Unfortunately, she claims she is under the cone of silence, something her employer has publicly and emphatically insisted is not true.

This latter point, I'm afraid, makes Troyer a liar, regardless of whether she sent the emails or not.


buylocalurbana wrote on April 06, 2012 at 10:04 pm

"So what really is the point of continuing to pursue Troyer when the fight is over?"

What fight is over? Is the News-Gazette really arguing that a state employee should not be held accountable for (as an investigation by two independent audit firms concluded) misuse of State property to commit fraud, lying to State Ethics Office investigators (itself a terminable offense), false representation, destruction of evidence, and disregard for State Ethics rules?

Just forget about all that stuff, says the N-G. Why, she's already "suffered a significant decline" in her pay, *way down* to $109,000. Surely that's punishment enough.

Seriously, guys?

cruieo wrote on April 06, 2012 at 10:04 pm

No Explanation?

All of you that are still bashing Troyer have yet to offer an explantion why your mouthpiece has suddenly decided to publish an opinion that the university is pursuing a vendatta against her and the ethics investigation was short sighted.  Do you care to explain?  Maybe the NG should step up and explain why after bashing her for the last 3 month they have done an about face.  WHAT DO THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT SHARING!

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 07, 2012 at 11:04 am

The matter should have been taken out of the U. of I.'s hands.  A full inquire should have been conducted by the state authorities the same as it is done for other state employees.  She would have had her day to explain under the threat of perjury for lying.  This is just another cover up.  This time the faculty will be part of it.  Academia should be subject to the same set of rules as are all state employees.  Enough of contract, and tenure protecting wrong doing for the elite.  The U. of I. has a long history of cover ups, buy outs, and providing crushy jobs for life at a reduced salary for administrative wrong doing.  The U. of I. can no longer be trusted to dispense equitable discipline to all employees.  The hypocrisy is evident. 

urallfreaks wrote on April 08, 2012 at 10:04 am

I think it would be more important to have some Integrity and make sure this cancer was removed from the university.  World Class faculty, not so much with a Troyer, Hogan and that other waste of space Herman.  All of these are vendictive people who deserve everyone to pile on them and chastize them into infinity.  I forgive them, but I cannot respect their poor choices - Nor the NG's idea that they have ANYTHING else to report in this Small Town tattered rag of a paper.