CHICAGO - The U of I Board of Trustees are standing behind the man they hired two years ago.
"We needed our people to change or we needed change on our people," said board chairman Christopher Kennedy.
One thing that won't change is the president at the Urbana-Champaign campus. But they admit Michael Hogan has plenty of work to do. The trustees are hoping to change his reputation. It has blemish on it now thanks to the anonymous e-mail scandal. Also, dozens of U of I faculty members want him to resign. And the trustees say fixing that relationship should be Hogan's first step in clearing his name.
"The issues about rebuilding that support are issues Mike Hogan to play a leadership role in," said Kennedy.
That's the message he and the rest of the board of trustees hope President Hogan takes with him. They all met today in a closed door emergency session in Chicago. One reason was to address a recent letter signed by dozens of faculty members demanding that Hogan step down.
"I think when we have so many of our improtant proferssors writing letters to us that express concerns that in and itself expresses concerns for the trustees," said Kennedy.
Richard Blahut is one of those professors. "The president of this university can be replaced," he said. Blahut fears keeping Hogan around won't only scare away prospective students, but force some faculty to leave.
"They stay here because they like the environment. If the environment deteriorates people start leaving."
Blahut and the rest of Hogan's opposition weren't invited to today's session. But he's hoping they'll have a chance to speak their minds on March 14th. That's when the board will hold a meeting on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
"They can't make a reasonable decision without understanding the university, without understanding this campus," said Blahut.
President Hogan told us last Friday he has no plans of stepping down. He also says he has a good relationship with Chancellor Phyllis Wise despite faculty members claiming he bullied her.