TO: University of Illinois Board of Trustees
RE: The Enrollment Management Controversy and UI Leadership Issues
This letter expresses our reaction to the continued revelations about the enrollment management controversy at the University of Illinois. The enrollment management issue is complex and will undoubtedly elicit continued deliberation. Nevertheless, the revelations to date have led to three broader inferences about the state of university leadership.
• First, Chancellor Wise has made an extraordinarily positive impression in her first months as Chancellor. The University of Illinois is fortunate to have attracted such an outstanding scholar and administrator. As a faculty, we strongly support her as Chancellor and we support the statutory role of the Chancellor as the chief executive officer and leader of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
• Second, we are troubled by the tone and content of the emails from the President’s office that were referred to in the February 14, 2012 issue of the News Gazette. For example, in a message describing how he addressed Chancellor Wise’s concerns about the proposed system, President Hogan stated that he “reminded her that my goals are her goals.” It is clear from such comments and others that President Hogan has adopted a managerial stance toward the Urbana campus that is not conducive to free and open discussion of the pertinent issues.
• Third, given the tenor of President Hogan’s emails to Chancellor Wise, we have serious concerns about the attitude and relationship of President Hogan toward Chancellor Wise. A strong working partnership between the President’s and Chancellor’s offices is crucial to the vitality of the Urbana campus and the entire University of Illinois. Since the campuses and the overall university each have a crucial statutory identity and role in our institutional arrangement, we believe that the President and Chancellor need to be partners, not manager and subordinate in a simple top-down command system. We note that this is a point that former President Stanley Ikenberry frequently made.
In conclusion, we have serious doubts and concerns about the President’s approach to this relationship, both in terms of simple collegiality and respect at the personal level, and in terms of an effective leadership style that will serve the institution well.