URBANA — Faced with mounting faculty resistance to enrollment management reforms, University of Illinois President Michael Hogan repeatedly pressured campus chancellors to publicly endorse the plan even as they pushed back to retain campus control over admissions, newly released documents show.
The president exerted his control by summoning them to meetings, giving them "talking points" to show their support and enlisting help from UI Board of Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy to prod administrators to get on board.
In response to an Illinois Freedom of Information Act request, the UI released thousands of pages of documents related to the contentious debate on enrollment management.
The News-Gazette requested copies of these communications, dated from mid-November 2011 through early January 2012, in the wake of Lisa Troyer's Jan. 4 resignation as Hogan's chief of staff. Anonymous emails, sent to faculty leaders about the enrollment management debate in December, were traced to her computer, an investigation found.
The emails provided to The News-Gazette show Hogan growing increasingly frustrated with the pace of the reforms as faculty on the University Senates Conference and campus administrators raised questions about how much control a new university-wide enrollment management executive director would have over admissions, financial aid and other enrollment matters.
In the emails, Hogan referred to the Urbana faculty as "oppositional," chastised new Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise for failing to quell a "defiant" senate and told Kennedy that he had reiterated to Wise that "my goals are her goals."
In a heavily redacted Jan. 5 email to Wise, Hogan said he was "not happy" with her "lack of leadership on enrollment management" and said she knew about the board's plans for enrollment management reform when she was hired.
"I expect you to be an advocate for the campus, of course, but also an advocate for the Board and the president as we push forward with an agenda that you knew about when you accepted the job," Hogan wrote.
In an email from Wise several days later, the chancellor took strong exception to Hogan's characterization.
"In fact, I have discussed enrollment management on the Urbana-Champaign campus in a nuanced manner to balance faculty (and my) concerns about the need to be able to manage campus level enrollment issues effectively vis-a-vis your and the Board of Trustees' concerns about diversity, articulation, and the effective use of financial aid. Thus, I would argue that I have exerted the kind of leadership that encourages an open discussion of the options before us.
"In my concept of leadership, it is extraordinarily important to pay attention both to the people who report to me, as well as those to whom I report," she wrote.
Questions directed to Hogan, Wise and other chancellors on Monday were answered by UI spokesman Tom Hardy.
Hardy characterized the discussions as "robust" and said the many documents released reflected a "frank and candid review" on enrollment management.
"Such a debate is essential and healthy, providing a thorough examination that ensures the best possible plan emerges. If emails among top managers of any public or private organization were reviewed on major initiatives, you would find the same kinds of discussions."
Hogan urged the chancellors to reassure the campuses that their concerns were being addressed and, "as the chancellors agreed, the enrollment management initiative would benefit the campuses and the university," he said.
Enrollment management reforms kicked off in spring 2011 when President Hogan hired two outside consultants to review how the UI could improve student diversity, attract high-achieving students and improve financial aid packages.
However, it wasn't until the fall, after the final report was submitted, and the Senates Conference began reviewing it, that the debate became heated. Faculty, particularly on the Urbana campus, raised questions about the recommendations in the report, arguing a centralized system didn't make sense for three such distinct campuses.
During three weeks in November and December, Hogan called two meetings with Wise, Chicago Chancellor Paula Meares and Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch to discuss their stance on enrollment management, emails show.
Hogan ordered the chancellors to attend a meeting with him and his staff on Nov. 22, reminding them trustees had endorsed the recommendations.
Hogan was irritated that the Senates Conference had responded specifically to each of the 21 recommendations, initially endorsing only three, rather than simply advising Hogan on what the faculty role had been on admissions and related matters.
"Given the contentious and divisive atmosphere that has developed around these issues in the senates, I think it may be time to" (remainder of sentence is redacted, or blacked out, by the university), Hogan wrote to the chancellors.
At the Nov. 22 meeting, according to an email from Wise, the chancellors and other UI administrators were surprised to learn that Hogan planned to have the proposed campus-level directors of enrollment management report only to the new central executive director, and not to their own provosts. The administrators argued a dual-reporting line, at the very least, was required, but Hogan was "not convinced," Wise wrote.
In an email later that day, Hogan thanked the chancellors for their "candor" in the discussion but explained that he and the board felt a dual-reporting relationship would make it "impossible to recruit someone who would be held accountable for the job. Nevertheless, I remain open to other suggestions that might ameliorate your concerns."
Meares and Wise then sought input from their provosts, admissions staff and campus deans about the reporting line.
Then, following a Dec. 5 Urbana campus senate meeting, Hogan fired off a Dec. 6 letter to Kennedy with a "heads up" about the enrollment management initiative.
He was upset about comments made by faculty senator Mark Roszkowski calling for a confrontation with the president on the issue. At that meeting, the senate had reviewed, and was generally agreeable to, a task force report on the enrollment management recommendations that called for a more collaborative approach. But two campus deans also spoke up saying it was crucial for the campuses to retain control of admissions and retention issues.
In his email to Kennedy, Hogan said he was "dismayed" Wise had not challenged Roszkowski or the deans.
"I'm meeting with Phyllis on Thursday about this and I'm hopeful that after a very frank discussion with her, she will begin to assume a strong leadership role on this and other matters," Hogan said.
Earlier in the email, Hogan said he'd been surprised by Wise's previous responses to the senate's concerns and reminded her before the meeting that trustees had charged him with implementing the recommendations.
"I reminded her that my goals are her goals and that the senate meeting in which this would be taken up would be a critical opportunity for her to lead the Urbana campus," he told Kennedy.
The president met with Wise on Dec. 8, then with the three chancellors on Dec. 9, documents show. That night, Hogan sent them a set of "talking points" to communicate to their faculty and campuses about enrollment management within the next two days.
"I join the President and the Board of Trustees in supporting efforts to enhance our enrollment management operations," the document began.
The talking points directed the chancellors to say that they had met with Hogan and each other about implementing the reforms and agreed on steps to ensure that concerns raised by faculty "will receive the president's full attention and the full attention of others involved in this work," according to the document.
They apparently persuaded Hogan to allow a "dual-reporting structure," with admissions reporting primarily to the director and secondarily to the chancellor/provost, documents show. An enrollment management policy council would also include the campus provosts, and the chancellors would be allowed to sit in on interviews for the new enrollment management director.
The document also stated that faculty and deans would continue to have the same role in enrollment management.
The three chancellors collaborated on their responses over the weekend before sending them out to their faculty and staff so "we are all in sync," as Meares put it.
That same weekend chancellors were drafting their responses, Hogan briefed Kennedy about the issue and on Sunday emailed him draft messages for Kennedy to edit and then send to the three chancellors and Senates Conference Chairman Don Chambers.
In the message he sent to the chancellors, Kennedy said Hogan had told him "that he and the chancellors had come to terms and that you are now prepared to lead your campuses in the implementation."
Trustees have been concerned about enrollment trends such as decreasing diversity, lower yields and inadequate financial aid, he wrote.
"This is why we approved the appointment of an executive director of enrollment management and asked Mike to have our operations reviewed," and why the board endorsed the report, Kennedy said.
An hour after he sent the email to the three chancellors, Kennedy sent a similar message to Chambers.
"In short, the recommendations represent Board policy, as well as the President's goal. The two should be viewed as inseparable and we hope that the Conference will not find itself at odds with what the trustees, as well as the President, are trying to do," he wrote to Chambers.
The next day, on Monday, Dec. 12, the three chancellors sent their messages to senior administrators (copied to university administration).
It was also on that day — Dec. 12 — that the now infamous anonymous emails were sent to members of the Senates Conference, urging them not to pretend to reach a consensus on their own. The conference was drafting its own response to the enrollment management report.
Since then Kennedy has met with the Senates Conference to review their concerns on enrollment management, Hogan has apologized for the anonymous email incident and faculty have passed unanimous resolutions criticizing the president for his "failure of leadership."
Recently the president has said he will release a revised enrollment management plan later this month.
"In the end, we expect that it will yield a mutually acceptable compromise that will best serve the interests of future students, our campuses and the university as a whole," Hardy said Monday.