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U of I Finds Troyer Sent Emails; Troyer Denies It

An investigation has concluded that a pair of anonymous emails sent to the University of Illinois' Faculty Senates Conference were written by Lisa Troyer, the former chief of staff to U of I President Michael Hogan.

The investigation conducted by the data analysis firm, Duff & Phelps, and the law firm Jones Day, found no evidence of 'hacking' or vulnerabilities in the U of I's network, and that the emails in question were written and sent from Troyer's laptop.

"The circumstances overwhelmingly pointed to it - all that activity happening on her computer, and there was no evidence whatsoever that there was a third party hacker," said Peggy Daley of Duff & Phelps.

The messages urged members of the panel not to investigate who leaked their report, which was critical of parts of Hogan's enrollment management plan. Both of the messages, which originated from aboutintegrity@yahoo.com were signed by an unnamed senator.

One of the recipients of the messages saw embedded data in the email, which indicated that it was created on a computer with the user account of 'troyer." That was brought to the attention of the U of I's IT department, University ethics department, and the subsequent investigation ensued.

Investigators reviewed more than 3,500 emails from Troyer's email account from the month of December, and additional emails from the fall, which contained key search words.

University of Illinois Ethics Officer Donna McNeely said the investigation revealed that no other person, including Hogan, had prior knowledge about the messages sent to the Senates Conference. McNeely said Hogan spoke with Troyer on Dec. 12, the day the e-mails were sent.

"(Hogan) indicated that the calls on the night of Dec.12 were Dr. Troyer informing him of the concern and the potential hack, and his encouragement and direction for her to contact university security," McNeely said.

University spokesman Tom Hardy said this case will not have an impact on President Hogan's role at the U of I.

Meanwhile, Troyer has submitted a statement, saying she did not write or send the e-mails. Troyer also said she asked the University's Executive CIO to investigate the matter within minutes of learning that an anonymous e-mail to the University Senate Conference listserv being attributed to her, indicating she was the one who first instigated the investigation. But Troyer said her resignation was still best decision.

"As the investigation continued, I recognized that without and until there is an explanation of the source of this situation, I cannot effectively fulfill my duties as Chief-of-Staff in the Office of the President and, for this reason, offered my resignation on 1/3/2011," Troyer said. "Again, I had nothing to do with these e-mails and, although the source and motivation have not yet been uncovered, I believe that in the fullness of time, the truth behind this matter will be revealed."

President Hogan thanked the investigative team for its work, and expressed his disappointment in the events.

"The investigative team has made a thorough examination of the facts on which to base its conclusions," Hogan said. "This was a disappointing event, and we have taken the necessary steps to address it."

U of I Board of Trustees Chris Kennedy said that the "misguided attempt by one individual to sway opinion must not distract the university community from important work around the enrollment management initiative."

Troyer had served as Hogan's chief of staff since July 2010. Troyer also holds an appointment as a tenured professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on the Urbana campus and plans to resume her teaching duties.

"The University has very strong policies and procedures and a code of conduct regarding how we as an institution expect employees to behave," McNeely said.

McNeely said it is possible Troyer violated the University's code of conduct and appropriate use policy, and that campus officials will consider whether those violations existed in this case.

Categories: Education