I’ve lost jobs immediately after receiving excellent assessments from both colleagues and students. In one case, one or two teachers were able to manipulate the system for their own obscure purposes. That sort of petty, narcissistic power is probably always obscure if not inexplicable. In the second case, it was administrative power run amok. That too was obscure, but my guess is that they went for whoever talked the most.
I didn’t have the power– I should say “we” didn’t have the organizational power, that is, the faculty involved didn’t have the power–to fight either case but in each case my treatment was rewarded with severance pay. There’s no real justice, this seemed to be saying, but at least you can leave with a little money. Academia isn’t a meritocracy any more than any other job. Merit is just the pretty paint job covering up the nastiness lying just beneath the surface.
There’s no surprise in the news that the University of Illinois President Michael Hogan would be paid off with a nice stipend. The difference, of course, is that he is leaving after completely messing up his job, and he was given a year off, and full pay for the next several months, and nearly a $300,000 tenured faculty position too. One month of his current salary is greater than a year’s median salary in the U.S. Things are different up in the 1%.
Hogan will no doubt spend the next year considering head-hunter offers or book deals and then quietly move on. We still have questions that need answers. Did Hogan use spoofed email to try to influence a faculty debate? Did he use his henchwoman, Lisa Troyer, to spoof the email? Why would a university administrator know how to spoof email? Was she paid off with a tenured position too? Is this sort of deceit common practice?