URBANA — The Urbana campus has begun its own review of former University of Illinois presidential chief of staff Lisa Troyer, who resigned in January during an ethics investigation and is now a tenured psychology professor.
Interim Provost Richard Wheeler said Monday that the campus plans a "rigorous" process, consulting with faculty in the Department of Psychology and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, about whether to take further disciplinary action against Troyer. The review is to start later this week.
It will determine "what, if anything, are the implications of her actions in her job as chief of staff to the president for her job as a member of our faculty," Wheeler said Monday.
A sociologist by training, Troyer was given a zero-time tenured appointment in psychology, with no salary attached, shortly after she was hired in July 2010 along with President Michael Hogan. She had held a similar faculty post at the University of Connecticut, where she served as his executive assistant, and also worked with Hogan when he was provost at the University of Iowa, where she earned her tenure.
However, an ethics investigation concluded Jan. 13 that Troyer had likely posed as a faculty senator in two anonymous emails to try to influence a University Senates Conference report on Hogan's controversial enrollment management plan, which covers admissions, financial aid and related issues.
Troyer has maintained that she did not write or send the emails and said she resigned her $200,850-a-year post because she could not be effective as chief of staff during the investigation. She did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Monday evening.
The campus extended a paid faculty appointment to Troyer on Jan. 17, but she asked for more time to consider the terms, officials said. She signed the letter on Feb. 7.
The letter included a provision stating that "additional reviews of your activities related to the recently completed investigative report may be undertaken, through consultation with appropriate faculty governance committees."
Officials have said any review would likely consider whether Troyer violated campus policies on ethics and appropriate use of electronic communications, as referenced in the investigative report.
Chancellor Phyllis Wise was asked about the status of the review at Monday's campus senate meeting.
Wheeler said Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of LAS, will meet later this week with a psychology faculty advisory committee. She may also consult with her own college's faculty committee before bringing a recommendation to Wheeler's office, he said.
"The process at this point is exploratory. We want to see what people think should be done, if anything," about her faculty appointment, Wheeler said.
If more action is recommended, the campus would then consult with UI attorneys and decide how to move forward under the UI statutes, which allow two types of sanctions — dismissal for cause, and sanctions short of dismissal. The chancellor would likely be involved, and for any dismissal the president or "someone acting on behalf of the president" would have to be involved, Wheeler said.
"It's not obvious what the best thing to do is," Wheeler said. "We need to have legal advice to follow through."
Troyer is not teaching this semester, since classes had already started, but her appointment notice requires her to begin developing her future research and teaching agenda for the fall. She is required to report on her activities during the spring semester.
Academic administrators typically hold tenured faculty appointments and return to those positions once they leave their administrative jobs. Their salaries are typically split between their administrative and faculty positions, but that wasn't done in Troyer's case so the campus had to formally offer her a salary, campus officials have said.
"We believe the decision regarding whether the campus will embrace her role there is a campus-level decision, and we look forward to supporting that process and whatever conclusion it produces," UI Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy said in a letter to top faculty Monday.