UI President Comments on Email Scandal, Faculty Relations

January 24, 2012

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan is speaking publicly for the first time since the resignation of his former chief of staff, Lisa Troyer.

An investigation connected Troyer as the source of a pair of anonymous emails sent to a faculty advisory group, urging them not to investigate who leaked a report critical of parts of Hogan's enrollment management plan.

Hogan is defending how he handled the situation. Echoing the conclusion of the investigation linking Troyer to the messages, Hogan said he didn't do anything wrong.

"That doesn't mean I'm not responsible," he said. "I'm responsible for everything sooner or later. It's a problem - serious problem - and we have them on a regular basis. They end up on my desk, and it's my responsibility to deal with it."

When asked if he plans to find a new chief of staff to replace Lisa Troyer, Hogan said, "I think eventually I'll have to have someone playing that kind of role."

Hogan met Monday with members of the Senate Executive Committee on the Urbana campus, which is preparing to release a letter assessing the case of the anonymous e-mails. Committee Vice-Chair Joyce Tolliver said she is concerned about the culture of "opposition and intimidation" in Hogan's office that she believes may have led Troyer to think that it was alright to send the messages.

"What we've seen is sending representatives of his office to take notes on just those aspects of our senate discussions that have to do with issues that are close to him, and then reporting back to him about which senators are saying things that may be problematic," Tolliver said.

Hogan said he wants to start meeting with the Senate Executive Committee more frequently to improve communication with faculty. But U of I Professor Nicholas Burbules, who is a member of the Senate Executive Committee, said having the president attend more meetings isn't the solution.

"The president seems to approach every meeting with a very strong idea in mind of what he wants to do; often he is telling us what he wants to do," Burbules said. "He'll listen to what we say, but the outcome is almost always the same that he's going to do, and that doesn't feel like a real dialogue."

Burbules points to concerns that have been raised over President Hogan's enrolment management plan, which includes re-branding the university's three campuses as one entity. U of I faculty have criticized it, saying a centralized enrollment process could weaken each campus' ability to match resources to student needs.

Speaking after his meeting with the Senate Executive Committee, Hogan admitted that the re-branding effort has not been properly understood, and for now, won't be considered.

"There's so much concern about what that meant, we're just going to take it off the table as we move forward," he said. "We'll refer that probably to the council of provost to wrestle with that and report back in due course.

Story source: WILL