President Hogan’s vehement criticism of Chancellor Wise revealed in emails

Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series regarding contentious discussions over proposed changes to the University’s enrollment management, after thousands of emails were obtained by The Daily Illini under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Before even spending a full semester on campus, Chancellor and Vice President Phyllis Wise was under pressure from the University administration that expected her to endorse its plans.

During a time when the enrollment management proposal was becoming a contentious point of discussion among campus leaders, University President Michael Hogan pushed Wise and other chancellors to accept his original recommendations, scheduling special meetings and providing “talking points” to convey to faculty. Emails show that Hogan was upset at Wise for 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,” Hogan told Wise in a heavily redacted email dated Jan. 5.

Wise responded three days later, objecting to some of Hogan’s comments:

“I would argue that I have exerted the kind of leadership that encourages an open discussion of the options before us. 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.”

University spokesman Tom Hardy fielded questions Friday in lieu of Hogan and Wise.

When asked about Hogan’s concerns about Wise’s leadership, Hardy said these ongoing discussions have been a part of a working relationship Hogan has with all the chancellors.

Emails show that Hogan was disappointed with Wise for how she handled the Urbana-Champaign’s Senate meeting on Dec. 5, where some senators expressed strong disapproval of Hogan’s plans while others encouraged the group to have a discussion.

Just a day later, Hogan emailed Board of Trustees chairman Christopher Kennedy, expressing his misgivings about the Urbana senate, saying the campus has always been “oppositional” on reforms he has made over the last 18 months. In that email, Hogan said Wise failed to properly respond to faculty concerns, especially when LAS dean Ruth Watkins said enrollment decisions should be made at the respective campuses, under the provost’s authority.

“(It seems) to convey (her) implicit support for rejecting the board’s and my plans to address our declining enrollment performance through the reforms proposed in the report,” Hogan said of Wise.

At that meeting, Wise called an Urbana task force’s review of Hogan’s report “thoughtful,” saying the campus should have more input during the implementation stages. But this review report only accepted three of the 21 recommendations, saying that many required further discussion or complete overhaul before implementation. However, Wise did not publicly endorse either report during that meeting.

Hogan added later in his email to Kennedy: “I’m meeting with Phyllis (in two days) about this, and I’m hopeful that after a very frank discussion with her, she will begin to assume a strong leadership role on this and other matters.”

Hogan met with all three chancellors that week and provided talking points to communicate to their campuses. One talking point told faculty leaders that the chancellors felt that faculty and deans will continue to play the same role in the admissions process as they do now.

“They’re standard operating procedure in every large institution and organization,” Hardy said. “We have three different chancellors with three different campuses and (there is) obviously a desire to make sure that everybody is communicating the same information to the many constituents of the University.”

After his meeting with the chancellors, Hogan emailed Kennedy saying that he told the chancellors during a “very serious conversation” that he and the trustees endorsed the new plan and “expected them to follow suit.”

On Dec. 12 — the day the anonymous emails were sent to the University Senates Conference — Wise told members of the Senate Executive Committee and the press that the chancellors agreed to the idea of hiring an executive director for enrollment management, calling it a “doable thing.” This was partly because the chancellors had been assured that the campus will have input in the hiring process, according to Wise.

Even with this assertion, members of the executive committee endorsed the campus’ enrollment management review report and forwarded it to the trustees, Hogan and members of the University Senates Conference, who were preparing to issue their own review report.