Urbana academic senators acted unanimously Jan. 30 in support of three measures addressing recent alleged unethical conduct in UI President Michael J. Hogan's administration.
Senators offered support of a statement made at the Jan. 19 UI Board of Trustees meeting by University Senates Conference chair Donald Chambers, a UIC physiology and biophysics professor, who was critical of the administration's handling of an incident involving Hogan's chief of staff, who resigned as a result of allegations she misrepresented herself by email as a USC member and tried to secretly influence debate of a pending enrollment management plan.
Chambers referred to the incident as "the most serious assault on the principles and process of shared governance that has ever occurred in the history of this great university."
Lisa Troyer, who was the chief of staff, maintains she did not send the emails.
Senators also stood without dissent behind a Senate Executive Committee-drafted statement on ethical leadership and shared governance, which condemned the administration's "broad pattern of surveillance and intrusion into legitimate faculty governance deliberations."
The statement ended, "This is not the Illinois way."
Senators also unanimously voted to approve a faculty-led resolution reiterating widespread support for recommendations made by the senate's Enrollment Management Task Force, which was critical of the administration's attempt to centralize enrollment management functions and recommended more faculty consultation.
"Be it resolved that the Senate urges the president and the university administration to reaffirm, in word and deed, a commitment to genuine shared governance where the advice of faculty is not only encouraged but seriously considered," the resolution said.
Joyce Tolliver, a Spanish professor, spoke outside of her senate vice-chairmanship to address the issue of the president's accountability in the email incident.
She said he was "clearly trying to divide the campus senates from each other" through "intimidation" and "misrepresentations."
Hogan's apology for the email incident before senators at the Jan. 23 SEC meeting was "not an apology at all," she said, because he failed to take full responsibility. Tolliver also questioned whether "Dr. Hogan's ethical bar is set too low" based on previous statements he has made about the incident. Senators applauded at the conclusion of her statement.
Senate chair Matthew Wheeler, an animal sciences professor, said the senate's support of the three resolutions showed that the faculty was united in its opinion of the administration's alleged tactics.
"We're not asking for any penalties," he said. "This is a statement of our values."
Wheeler told senators Troyer insists she didn't send the anonymous emails.
Several investigations concluded that Troyer's computer was the source of the emails. The investigations indicated there was no forensic evidence tying Hogan to the incident.
Troyer recently made contact with Wheeler in order to make "minor" corrections to supplemental materials included in the earlier senate-approved SEC statement on ethical leadership and shared governance. He said she also reiterated her innocence.
Urbana Chancellor and UI Vice President Phyllis Wise said Troyer had been given the terms of her position in the psychology department. She said Troyer had requested a time extension for signing the appropriate paperwork that would make her a full-time faculty member, noting the deadline for acceptance was Jan. 27.
One senator expressed concern that Troyer's case could be publicly cast as an argument against tenure protection. Another asked whether the university had the ability to sanction Troyer.
Wise said university statutes do allow for sanctions, but as it stands, Troyer was hired as an administrator with a zero-percent faculty appointment.
"She needs to sign that before we can go forward," Wise said. "We will go through that process, but I think we are all working on this as we go."
- Senators approved changes in the senate bylaws and standing rules, proposed by the university statutes and senate procedures committee to bring all proceedings under senate auspice in closer compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
Changes include required public disclosure of the specific exemption being cited for a closed-session meeting, and the prerequisite that any final vote on a closed-session issue be made in public.
- Senators declined to support a senator-led resolution to alter a senate rule preventing a binding vote from being taken on issues that don't already appear on the agenda.
The resolution, which was sent to committee for further review, suggested that issues raised in agenda-listed reports should also be eligible for same-day senate action.
Resolution sponsor and Sen. Peter Loeb, a mathematics professor, said he believed the change was allowable under the Illinois Open Meetings Act - an assertion challenged by Sen. Mary Mallory, a library professor.
"I think that you're suggesting we break the law," she said prior to the vote.
- Senators agreed to not change senate statues to reflect the tradition of rotating leadership positions for the USC, but approved a resolution indicating the rotation tradition should continue.
The proposed change, initiated by UIS officials, also was rejected by the UIC Senate.
"Codifying the tradition in the statutes as proposed by UIS is too inflexible," said a statement by the members of the university statues and senate procedures committee.
(posted Jan. 25, 2012)