Emails: University of Illinois president pressuring campus leaders

February 14, 2012

The Associated Press

URBANA, Ill. — University of Illinois President Michael Hogan has pressured leaders on the school's three campuses to back his plan to change the way enrollment is managed, according to documents released by the school.

The enrollment management plan has been a flashpoint for disagreements between faculty and Hogan, who took over as president in 2010. His chief of staff resigned earlier this year over anonymous emails intended to sway reluctant faculty.

The thousands of pages of documents turned over to The News-Gazette in Champaign (http://bit.ly/zSykJe) include email exchanges between Hogan and Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise in which he complained the top administrator at the flagship campus wasn't doing enough to back Hogan's plan. The documents were requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

One heavily redacted email from Jan. 5 from Hogan complained to Wise about her "lack of leadership on enrollment management."

"I expect you to be an advocate for the campus, of course, but also an advocate for the Board (of Trustees) and the president as we push forward with an agenda that you knew about when you accepted the job," the president wrote.

Several days later, Wise responded that he had discussed the plan in a way that she felt balanced the concerns of faculty and her own concerns.

"In my concept of leadership, it is extraordinarily important to pay attention both to the people who report to me, as well as those to whom I report," she wrote.

Neither Hogan nor Wise would comment on the emails, but university spokesman Tom Hardy called their exchanges pieces of a "robust" debate.

"Such a debate is essential and healthy, providing a thorough examination that ensures the best possible plan emerges," Hardy said. "If emails among top managers of any public or private organization were reviewed on major initiatives, you would find the same kinds of discussions."

Hogan proposed the enrollment management plan early last year, but faculty leaders have objected to many provisions, fearing that admissions decisions would be taken away from the campuses and centralized.

His chief of staff, Lisa Troyer, resigned in January over several emails sent to faculty leaders trying to discourage their opposition and signed as if they were from an unnamed member of the faculty. An investigation concluded Troyer was likely the author. She denied writing the emails and has since taken a faculty job on campus at just over half of her original $200,000 annual salary.

The recently released university documents also showed Hogan called Wise, Chicago Chancellor Paula Meares and Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch to meetings last year to discuss their positions on his plan.