As the campus review of Lisa Troyer gets under way, University of Illinois President Michael Hogan told The News-Gazette he is hoping for a "reasonable resolution in a reasonable period of time."
Although campus officials have not said if they will pursue sanctions, dismissal or other actions against Hogan's former chief of staff, in an interview with The News-Gazette this week Hogan said he may recuse himself from the process if the university seeks Troyer's dismissal.
University statutes require the president to initiate any dismissal proceedings against a tenured professor, in consultation with the Faculty Advisory Committee, whereas lesser dismissals are overseen by the campus chancellor and provost.
Because of his friendship with Troyer and the fact that she reported directly to him, Hogan said his inclination would be "to delegate my responsibility to someone else."
"We are not there yet. And I don't want to say this is what I'm going to do. That won't even be wholly my decision. I'd have to discuss it with the board. So it's very important that I make it clear that there's a big difference from the inclination of the moment and what actually might transpire if it gets to that point," Hogan said.
In his interview with The News-Gazette, the UI president said he still speaks with Troyer, whom he has known for a decade since their days of working together at the University of Iowa. She has told him, as she has many others, she did not write the anonymous emails sent to faculty leaders back in December.
Hogan declined to say whether or not he believed her and that the situation was an ongoing "personnel question in active due process."
Troyer resigned in early January as chief of staff but has held a zero-time tenured appointment in psychology since she joined the university in 2010. She submitted her resignation while the UI was investigating two anonymous emails sent to faculty members of the University Senates Conference in mid-December. The emails concerned the group's discussion on enrollment management and changes proposed by Hogan in areas of recruiting students, admissions, financial aid and more.
The results from that investigation, conducted by outside legal and forensic data firms at the direction of the UI ethics office and legal counsel, concluded the emails were composed and sent from Troyer's laptop. There was no evidence of hacking or that the laptop was improperly accessed, investigators found.
Troyer released a public statement to The News-Gazette last week claiming the UI's investigation was mishandled.
When asked about Troyer's recent statement, Hogan said the university conducted a "very quick, very thorough investigation."
"That investigation is still a document among many documents in a process that is still under way and I'd prefer not to really comment on it right now," he said.
Although she resigned as chief of staff, Troyer still held the tenured faculty position and last month she accepted the campus's offer of a position as a full-time professor in the psychology department for $109,000. She previously earned $200,850 as chief of staff.
Urbana's interim Provost Richard Wheeler said Thursday that the review process is moving forward as the campus maps out the steps required under university statutes covering potential sanctions against tenured faculty. Ruth Watkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is talking with faculty in Troyer's academic units, and Wheeler is consulting with the campus senate.
Article 9 of the university statutes addresses sanctions short of dismissal and requires that procedures "adopted by the campus vice president/chancellor in consultation with the campus senate are followed." Sanctions can include suspension with or without pay for a period of up to one-half the individual's academic appointment.
Article 10 involves dismissal of a faculty member and lays out a clear set of procedures requiring a hearing before the senate's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure and, if the individual requests it, a hearing before the board of trustees. Dismissal may be sought only if a faculty member has been "grossly neglectful of or grossly inefficient" in the performance of university duties, can no longer be relied upon to perform university duties "in a manner consonant with professional standards of competence and responsibility," or illegally advocates the overthrow of government by force or violence.
Hogan said Troyer has already been penalized once, by the reduction in her salary.
"We've been friends for a long time. So I'm sorry to see what she's going through and I'm very sorry to see what the university's going through."
Hogan said he still talks to her and "she's still a friend."
"I do try to give her a call once in a while just to see how she's doing," he said. He's also touched base with her when he needed to find a document or other information.
"She helped me out. She's always been willing to do that," he said.
As chief of staff, Troyer had "enormously good research skills" and often acted like a "traffic cop," Hogan said, reminding him where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing.
Since Troyer's resignation, Hogan said, he's distributed her work to others in the office, including former Vice President Avijit Ghosh, a part-time special assistant to the president. (Ghosh also has a 50 percent appointment in the College of Business, where he was dean before becoming a vice president.)
Hogan described Troyer as having good interpersonal skills and as someone who "kept me on track and on target."
"It's a gap that at some point has to be filled with someone with maybe the same skill set," he said.
But don't expect a new chief of staff to be named soon. Hogan will "wait and see" on hiring a replacement, though at some point in the future he will have to do that, he said.