UPDATED 5:15 p.m. Thursday
URBANA — President Michael Hogan should be terminated as quickly as possible, or the board of trustees risks losing its ability to govern the University of Illinois, top faculty said Thursday.
In a letter delivered to trustees, more than 100 distinguished professors from the Urbana campus urged the board to fire the university president, following recent reports about former chief of staff Lisa Troyer’s claims that she continued working after resigning from her position.
All university stakeholders would be served by “rapid and decisive termination,” the letter said.
“A board that does not act when there is a president who is so ethically and reputationally compromised as to be unable to function is one that is, in truth, itself unable to effectively govern the institution it stewards,” the letter stated.
Faculty delivered the letter to trustees at a regularly scheduled board meeting on campus. Trustees spent over an hour behind closed doors in the morning and again during the lunch hour to discuss personnel-related matters.
"I haven't seen the letter," Hogan said after the meeting and declined to comment on it.
UI board chairman Christopher Kennedy said trustees, while visiting the Urbana campus over the last two days, have had a chance to meet with senior administration, faculty leaders, letter writers and signers.
"During our afternoon executive session we had an opportunity to share the comments that we heard from the university with each other and with the president. We had a private session during which we distilled what we heard from all of the faculty. The university trustees have asked me to enter into a dialogue with the president to provide him a distillation of those thoughts and over the next few days I intend to do that," Kennedy said.
"He and I will have a dialogue about we have heard down here to bring clarity to the way forward," Kennedy said.
The letter follows a similar one sent Feb. 27 by the group of chaired professors to the board calling for Hogan’s departure.
Chairman Chris Kennedy called an emergency meeting in Chicago March 5 to review Hogan’s performance.
Trustees directed Hogan to rebuild trust with faculty and said they would hear an update from the president at Thursday’s meeting.
In the new letter, faculty thanked the board for the expeditious response but criticized Hogan’s recent attempts to mend fences with faculty.
The letter said the breakdown in shared governance did not stem from a communication problem as Hogan described it last week.
“‘Shared governance’ for Hogan apparently means explaining to faculty, senators, deans, and chancellors why his way is the right way. It is still a one-way learning experience, a top-down imposition of policy,” the letter said.
“This focus on form over substance reveals a truly cynical approach to governance, one which was at the root of Hogan’s political and ethical problems,” the letter said.
The letter also raised concerns about Troyer’s efforts to be paid from the time she resigned, Jan. 3, to when she accepted a faculty offer on Feb. 6.
Emails recently released to The News-Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act show that Troyer claimed she continued to work in that period by developing a transition plan for the president’s office, helping Hogan respond to FOIA requests and cooperating with an ethics investigation.
“It is difficult to exaggerate the impact that this finding ... is already having on the university community,” the letter said.
In a cover memo to the board, two of the endowed professors, Nigel Goldenfeld and Michael Moore, said the letter was circulated starting Wednesday afternoon. By the time the letter was delivered to trustees around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, 118 professors had signed it.
“This rate of response of the chaired faculty far surpasses that of our earlier letters to you from this group. It indicates a level of support for the views expressed in our letter, but also the urgency which the chaired faculty attaches to the rapidly unfolding situation, and the need for firm leadership at this point,” the professors said.
“Hogan is not up to the job of running the University of Illinois — a position that requires consensus-building so that the university can adapt without dysfunction to the difficult environment for the state and for the nation’s higher education system in general.
“Given the challenges that the university faces in an uncertain period for the State of Illinois, we view it as essential that Hogan’s failed Presidency be seen for what it is, and that a path be forged which can rapidly restore a healthy governance structure.”