Personal Emails Hide Correspondence at University of Illinois


An announcement from the University of Illinois reported a number of school policy violations made by several school administrators who used private emails to hide several pieces of correspondence from the public.

One of the the administrators named is Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who resigned last week citing “external issues” that have “caused the institution to sway from important tasks at hand”. Wise said she will be stepping down from her position on August 12 with plans to resume her position as a member of staff, writes Ellie Bothwell for Times Higher Education.

In a statement published by the university, she said: “External issues have arisen over the past year that have distracted us from the important tasks at hand. I have concluded that these issues are diverting much needed energy and attention from our goals. I therefore believe the time is right for me to step aside.”

According to the statement, faculty members at the school used personal email accounts to discuss a number of matters including issues at the University of Medicine, as well as issues involving the reversal of a job offer to professor Steven Salaita and the hiring of felon James Kilgore, writes Abigale Svoboda for The Daily Illini.

The statement said that the University recently became aware of a number of emails sent by faculty members through personal accounts that had not been included in Freedom of Information Act requests that had been filed over the past year.  When the University became aware, they released emails totaling over 1,100 pages less than 24 hours after Wise announced her resignation.

According to University spokesman Tom Hardy, the school became aware of the emails when a reference to checking “your other email” was found during a response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hardy went on to say that while Wise’s resignation is effective this Wednesday, it is not yet known if the other administrators will be punished or if the information held within the emails will ever be released to the public, reports Tyler Kingkade for The Huffington Post.

It is expected that Wise will take a year off and then return to the school as a member of faculty in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The university has seen a number of controversies arise over recent years, including allegations that athletes in three sports at the school had been mistreated, as well as a 2009 admissions scandal and a 2012 faculty issue that caused a number of top leaders to resign.