The latest university scandal is another sad chapter.
It was just a couple months ago, in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding test scores at the University of Illinois College of Law, that UI President Michael Hogan emphasized the importance of "honesty and integrity" in the operation of the university.
"The university will continue to foster a culture that encourages personnel to bring errors or concerns forward so that, like this one, any issue can be addressed fairly and transparently," he said.
But not everyone got the message, and it appears one of those people is Hogan's former chief of staff, Lisa Troyer.
Troyer submitted her resignation as Hogan's chief aide Jan. 6 after she was linked to the latest in a series of ethical lapses embarrassing to the university. She was suspected of having sent anonymous emails to a university committee that was wrestling with how to respond to a Hogan proposal on enrollment management, and an investigative report released Friday by the UI removes all doubt about her authorship.
There is no credible evidence supporting Troyer's denials. At the same time, there is overwhelming evidence that she sent the emails and then tried to delete them once she learned she had been tentatively identified as the author.
It would have been far better for Troyer to acknowledge a lamentable lapse of judgment than continue to embrace her utterly unsupported claim that someone had hacked into her computer.
The report's finding makes one thing is crystal clear — smart people in positions of great responsibility do stupid things.
But this was more than just dumb, it was a deceitful, dishonest and manipulative attempt to affect the work of a university committee. Tragically, it raises familiar questions.
What did President Hogan know and when did he know it? The report concludes Hogan was unaware of the emails before they were sent. But that will be hard for some to believe given his close working relationship with Troyer. She worked with Hogan at the University of Iowa, followed him to the University of Connecticut and, finally, to the UI.
At a minimum, Hogan has been deeply wounded by the loss of his chief of staff, particularly under these circumstances.
So what's next?
The UI administration contends Troyer's tenured status entitles her to a faculty appointment. Faculty members won't be happy about that, and they shouldn't be.
Administrators who lose their jobs because of ethical lapses ought not be rewarded with a faculty appointment, particularly considering that Troyer had no connection to the UI before she joined Hogan here in 2010.
Time was when UI officials were preoccupied with rules enforcement in the athletics department. While that issue seems pretty well in hand, at least for now, it's top UI administrators who keep getting in trouble these days.
First came the clouted admissions scandal that led to the ousters of President B. Joseph White, Chancellor Richard Herman and most of the members of the UI Board of Trustees.
Then came the fiasco at the UI law school in which admissions Dean Paul Pless fudged student test scores and grade point averages to make law school classes look more impressive than they were.
Now the president's chief of staff, in a futile and foolish attempt to shape the outcome of a university report, is linked to anonymous, dishonest emails.
These incidents are costly, both in terms of the university's institutional credibility and in the dollars spent on outside investigators to determine what happened and why. The good news is that the UI responded in a forthright way, but these incidents are growing increasingly tiresome.