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Michael Hogan's Mysterious Entrance And Golden Exit

"[M]any in higher education said it is not a surprise at all that [Michael] Hogan's presidency at Illinois did not last long and was marred with controversy," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"They point to his administrative track record as president of the University of Connecticut, which was as rocky as his time at Illinois. The question those critics raise is why, given the very public problems Hogan had at the University of Connecticut, the search committee at Illinois deemed him to be the best candidate.

"When asked about the criticism Hogan faced at Connecticut and how it was considered in the Illinois search, [board of trustees chairman Chris] Kennedy said that he did not have much understanding of those problems."

They were hard to miss. For example:

"From the beginning, his time at Connecticut was marred by the types of controversies that grab newspaper headlines. Hogan refused to live in the university-provided house, saying his wife was allergic to mold there, so the university paid for Hogan to stay in a different house. He ordered an expensive renovation of the university's main administrative building - including new furniture - that totaled $475,000 and was paid for through operating funds made up mostly of tuition revenue.

"He held a costly inauguration ceremony, complete with fireworks. He also spent the university's money on a series of life-sized cardboard cutouts of himself that were placed around campus."


Upon Hogan's departure, UConn trustee Thomas Ritter told the Connecticut Post that Hogan "didn't seem to appreciate how it looked when he was furnishing his Gulley Hall office with a $4,215 rug while tuition was being raised and the university had its hand out to the legislature during a recession."


At Illinois, Hogan landed a contract with a base salary of $620,000 - $170,000 more than his predecessor. He was also granted a $45,000 bonus "to make up for incentives he would have received if he hadn't left the University of Connecticut," the Daily Illini reported when Hogan was hired.

Other perks included a car and driver and use of a $1.6 million Gold Coast condo.


But the past behavior that predicted future performance was how Hogan dealt with the faculty at UConn.

"Tom Peters, a professor of computer science and a leader in the UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors when Hogan was president, said Hogan gave the impression that he did not care what faculty members thought on major issues," the Inside Higher Ed account reports.

So it was with little wonder that, at Illinois, Hogan experienced what the Tribune called "a faculty mutiny."


And yet, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Kennedy refused to acknowledge that the board had failed to make the right selection. Instead, he pretended Hogan was meant to be a short-term hire all along and he had finished the job he was brought in to do.

"The agenda that he had when he came to the University of Illinois had largely been completed," Kennedy said. "At this point we decided that we needed to go through a reflective process and articulate a long-term strategic plan. And that was better left to somebody else."


The university reportedly spent $300,000 on an executive search firm to find Hogan. Hence:

"A bill that has passed the Illinois House would bar state universities hiring executive headhunters," CBS2 Chicago reports:

"[U]nder the law, funds composed of tuition and tax dollars could not be used to pay the expensive companies used to recruit highly-paid talent, such as outgoing University of Illinois President Michael Hogan."


Finally, and perhaps most galling, Andrew Thomason of Illinois Statehouse News reports on Hogan's golden parachute. ISN encourages folks to "steal" their stories by republishing them free of charge, so I'll post their whole report here:

Former University of Illinois President Michael Hogan will get a soft landing after being pushed from his office.

Hogan will step down as president of the state's flagship university July 1 after two years because of pressure from disgruntled faculty members.

But Hogan's not done at the university. He'll get a one-year paid sabbatical, during which he'll collect a $285,100 paycheck, funded by a mix of students' tuition and state dollars.

If he hasn't found another job after his sabbatical, he'll be a tenured history professor at the university. With this position, he'll receive a salary of $285,100, a graduate assistant, secretarial support and $10,000 for research, as well as take on the teaching load of a research professor.

Gov. Pat Quinn wouldn't comment on Hogan's six-figure salary as a professor when asked several times at a news conference earlier this week. Quinn did say the move from president to professor was needed.

"I think he did his best, and it was probably the right thing to do to have this change, and I think it's important for us to move on," Quinn said.

But taxpayers won't be able to move on, per se.

They'll continue paying into the State University Retirement System, or SURS, on behalf of Hogan during his year off and his tenure as a professor. He'll be eligible for a pension on July 1, 2015, at which time he'll have paid into SURS for the five years necessary to be vested in the pension system.

Taxpayers will pay at least $94,240 toward Hogan's retirement by the time he steps down as president, and will continue to pay at least $21,667.60 annually under his new contract.

Taxpayers will be cutting Hogan a check for nearly $2,000 a month for the rest of his life if he gets vested.

The "state government, in the long run, will be cutting the check for his time as university president, his year off and his tenure as an extremely well-paid history professor," said Collin Hitt, senior director of governmental affairs for Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market think tank. "That is not appropriate."

The faculty senate asked for Hogan's resignation earlier in March. The request came after Hogan and the faculty's relationship was strained to the point of breaking because Hogan tried to centralize more of the university's operations at the Urbana-Champaign campus. In addition to Urbana-Champaign, the university has campuses in Chicago and Springfield.

Numerous messages left by Illinois Statehouse News with the University of Illinois for comment about Hogan's new position, and requests to speak with Hogan himself for this story were not returned.

The money the state's put into SURS on behalf of Hogan won't disappear if he doesn't stick around long enough to get vested.

"If the termination (of his employment) is prior to the five-year vesting date, the money is forfeited back to the state," explained Beth Spenser, communication manager for SURS, in an e-mail.

Under these circumstances, the money would end up in the general revenue fund, the state's biggest pool of money that covers most of the operating budget of the state.

Hogan will also get what he's put into SURS back, plus interest, if he doesn't get vested.

Hogan has paid in $130,383.56 to SURS, which has earned him $15,279.91 in interest, through the end of 2011, according to SURS records obtained by Illinois Statehouse News.


And let's not forget that the university is still contending with Hogan's former chief of staff, Lisa Troyer, who also worked for him at UConn.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports that Troyer has been offered a full-time faculty position despite resigning in January "amid an investigation into anonymous e-mails sent from her computer to the University Senates Conference, a faculty group that at the time was drafting a report on enrollment management. The topic, which includes everything from recruiting to offering financial aid to students, had become a source of contention between some faculty and Hogan, who hired consultants to outline a number of reforms in that area. The emails attempted to persuade members of the group to not come to a consensus on the issue.

"Troyer denied sending the anonymous messages, but an outside investigation concluded she was likely responsible and found no evidence that anyone else had used or hacked into her computer."

Perhaps Kennedy feels that she too has completed the task at hand.


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 29, 2012

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