Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hero Hogan

October 1, 2008, 9:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. (addition of report on Mike Hogan's accomplishments at UConn)

Mike Hogan is Alive and Very, Very Well

Mike Hogan is back in the news, and "in the hearts of his countrymen (and women)," at the same time a petition is being passed from UI faculty member to faculty member urging the reinstatement of former General Counsel Marc Mills. Brian Morelli, "UI professor petitioning to reinstate Mills," Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 1, 2008, p. A1; Amanda McClure and Kelli Shaffner, "Petition to reinstate Mills garners support from UI community" [in this morning's hard copy edition as "Mills Firing Irks Many"], The Daily Iowan, October 1, 2008, p. A1.

Mills, the University's former general counsel, was unceremoniously and peremptorily fired for . . . for . . . what exactly was he fired for? That's part of the problem. No one of us can look back on all of our actions and say there is absolutely nothing during our lifetimes that we might have done differently. But, at a minimum, it's hard to read his lengthy response to the Stolar Report's charges, and his explanation of his role (or absence of role) during the UI's handling of an alleged sexual assault last October 14 and find anything he did (alone or taken together) that would warrant such precipitous action. (And there has, of course, been no effort to show a pattern of mis-, mal- or nonfeasance over the past 20 years of his distinguished service to the University -- nor could there be). See generally, Nicholas Johnson, "University of Iowa Sexual Assault Controversy -- 2007-08," July 19-present.

It's caused many to look at other personnel decisions that don't seem to have made any more sense than this one. See, e.g., this morning's Russell Scott Valentino, "Advice to new VPs: Watch your backs, people," Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 1, 2008, p. A17.

But the story that caught my attention was Lauren Sieben, "Regent: No 2nd Thoughts," The Daily Iowan, September 26, 2008.

Former UI Provost Michael Hogan, who was denied the UI presidency in 2006, this week turned down a $100,000 bonus for exemplary service as the president of the University of Connecticut. . . .

Hogan declined the $100,000 bonus because of the state and school's struggling economic situation, and he asked that the money be given to the university's graduate program, the Associated Press reports.

Hogan served as UI provost from 2004 to 2007. He was a finalist in the UI presidential search in the fall of 2006, before the regents rejected all four finalists.

The regents called for a second presidential search in 2007, which cost the university roughly $200,000 and yielded then-Purdue Provost Sally Mason.

During the first search, Regent Robert Downer [noted] . . . that Hogan had been an "exemplary provost."

"I felt that he would have been an excellent president," Downer said. . . .

Members of the UI Faculty Senate and UI Student Government also were shocked and disappointed at the regents' decision to disband the search in 2006. The two groups passed "no-confidence" votes in November that year, a symbolic gesture of outrage.

Former Regent Amir Arbisser said Hogan received "very serious" consideration in the presidential search because of his prominence in the UI community, but [it was] . . . a "politically unpleasant" time.

"I think that it's a matter of sometimes throwing out the baby with the bath water," Arbisser said. "I think that people were looking for a completely new crew of candidates, not that [the] candidates we had looked at weren't excellent. . . ."
I didn't choose to post a comment regarding Mike Hogan to this story at the time (only a comment about the Daily Iowan's closing out the opportunity to put comments on two stories that day involving President Mason). What follows are excerpts from a random sampling from those Daily Iowan readers who did. The more severe criticisms of President Sally Mason have been deleted because (a) it is to everyone's interest that CEOs succeed, whether the president of our country or our university, (b) I don't think firing anybody is the answer to any problems the UI may have, and (c) this blog entry isn't about President Mason anyway, it is about (University of Connecticut) President Hogan.

posted 9/26/08 @ 10:00 AM CST
Didnt the regents say that the candidates were unqualified when they rejected a candidate that is vastly superior to our new president? Mason can't get a raise and Hogan turns down a bonus because of the economy. Dear Regents: you made a HUGE mistake. Your extreme negligence on this issue goes beyond any business judgment ruling that we would apply and the people of Iowa should get to recoup the losses you have inflicted from you personally.

posted 9/27/08 @ 5:41 PM CST
Why don't they just ditch Mason? . . .

Let's weigh the "evidence" on Mason:

[lengthy criticism of Mason follows, and then the comment concludes . . .]

And, the very sad reality -- we could have had Mike Hogan. He wanted the job and was imminently qualified and adored. Instead, he's at University of Connecticut, where he has just contributed his bonus BACK to the University. I guess the regents just could not tolerate a leader who has more intelligence, integrity, ability to lead, support, and intelligence than them.

At a minimum, they should see if Mike Hogan would come back as president, if they'd fire Mason, as would be appropriate in this situation. . . .
Similar, anonymous, comments were added to my blog entry, "Cleaning Up After the Party," September 26, 27, 2008.

Anonymous said...

I have several concerns: . . .

Instead of stepping up and taking responsibility, Mills and Jones are thrown under a bus. You can say that Jones may have had past problems, but where's the evidence that either he or Mills is responsible for the mishandling of this event?

Strike 3!

The bottom line is that the Regents have to justify hiring her over Mike Hogan. That's right -- Our first choice, who went off to better and brighter alternatives in Connecticut -- where, BTW, he just DONATED his $100k bonus back to the university.

Meanwhile, Mason, in a shadow of under-performance, receives an increment to her performance bonus.

How sad. Let's see about bringing back Hogan!
9/27/2008 06:11:00 PM

Anonymous said...

The regents didn't want Hogan because he could think for himself, just like Skorton did. The regents wanted someone too dumb to think for themselves, someone who had to be told how to think. That is, by her own account, why Mason fired Mills and Jones-- they weren't telling her what to think when she needed them to!

Looks like the regents got just what they wanted with this hire. How lucky for all of us.
9/27/2008 08:44:00 PM

Anonymous said...

I think you are right, anonymous-at-8:44PM. . . .

It's a little ironic that Amir Arbisser has come out in support of Mike Hogan at this point (according to the Daily Iowan). He voted against him as a presidential appointment. Yet, I have to respect his integrity for stepping up and admitting a mistake was made. . . .

--Signed, a once-proud faculty member
9/28/2008 07:55:00 AM
When Mike Hogan was here as our Provost you could probably have counted me as a "fan" -- though I was not a member of the Facebook "Hogan's Heroes" group. But I never worked with him on anything; in fact, I don't think I ever talked to him in his office about anything; and he made no decisions (of which I am aware) that affected me positively or negatively. So I claim no special knowledge.

Moreover, university administrators, like administrators of most institutions, are like judges. Most of the time their decisions mean that someone wins and someone loses. Those who "win" give no credit to the decider because, after all, they deserved to win, they were right and the other person wrong, and the decider only did what they ought to have done. Those who "lose" go away convinced the decider is either incompetent, corrupt or biased against them.

So I assume Hogan must have created his own detractors at our University; but my rough assessment is that, if so, they were far outnumbered by his fans -- including a good many regents.

Missing him, I decided to check out how he's been doing at Storrs, Connecticut. (Hopefully, it's unnecessary to add that I've had no contact with him, or anyone at his university, with regard to this blog entry, and I can only hope that if he ever sees it he won't be upset.)

Here's an editorial from the (University of Connecticut) The Daily Campus a couple weeks ago that provides a summary (Photo credit: Wikipedia; the dog in the picture is "Jonathan," the school mascot): Editorial, "Hogan's campus presence more than just a photo op," The Daily Campus, September 17, 2008:

Toward the end of former UConn President Philip Austin's tenure, a survey was taken asking students, faculty members and administrators what they would like to see in a future university president. The result of this survey was not surprising to most -- nearly unanimously, those connected with UConn were looking for a president who was a more visible member of the community.

To those who asked for a president they could connect with, someone who would be an active member of UConn's growing community, Michael Hogan has been the answer to their prayers.

In the year since President Hogan came to UConn, he has managed to make himself an integral part of the university on a multitude of levels. . . . He is an honorary member of a variety of fraternities and sororities on campus. His face graces the cover of the UConn dining handbook, replete with beekeeper hat to highlight UConn's efforts to use locally produced honey. It was Hogan who greeted parents on move-in day and Hogan who took the bus with students to football games. During sporting events, the president can typically be found in the student section and on Relay for Life he took laps around the track with student volunteers. . . .

He regularly eats meals in dining halls and is often approached by average students just to say hello. . . .

Students can often be seen waving at Hogan as he walks around campus, or shouting out his name at he passes by.

"Mike has made a very conscious effort to really get to know a lot of students. . . . I really run into him more informally around campus than I probably do formally, which says a lot," said USG President Ryan McHardy.

After years of being governed by a president who was rarely heard from directly and even more rarely seen around campus, UConn wanted a president who was a real person, someone they could connect with and who would be part of the community. In the year since President Hogan arrived in Storrs, that is exactly what we've received.
Not surprisingly, when it came time a couple of days ago for the paper to issue "Hogan's Report Card" they awarded him an "A" for "approachability." Editorial, "Hogan's Report Card: One Year in Review," The Daily Campus, September 26, 2008 ("'Mike,' as Hogan allows students to call him, is definitely a far cry from past presidents who liked to stay in their offices. Hogan walks around campus regularly, . . . seems to enjoy students' coming up and introducing themselves and generally makes time for small talk . . . and makes a discernible effort to reach us on our level.").

They also gave him a "B+" for fundraising, having "exceeded his goal of raising $55 million in new gifts . . . the second best performance in the university's history," and an "A-" for the "environment," among others (one A, one A-, two B+, and one B- -- contested by a student reader as far too low and unrealistic for his "political advocacy").

Mike Hogan's delightful blog -- which is called the "Pres Release" -- provides one reason for his environmental grade in a September 29 entry: "UConn has improved its rating from a year ago and is now listed as a “Campus Sustainability Leader” in the 2008-09 Green Report Card, which was released last week by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. . . . Only eight state public universities in the nation were rated higher than UConn and 12 others received the same overall rating, including several of our 'aspirational' peers: Cal-Berkeley, UVA, Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan."

He also blogs about his "Report Card":

I got my report card from the Daily Campus today. A solid A-/B+, depending on your grading scale. But of course this is before the upward adjustment for the usual grade inflation, which would probably convert the grade to an A+. So I’m very happy with the results. Besides, since I already have a good job I don’t have to worry about getting into a top-notch law school.

Looking at the Daily Campus, I got to thinking about my report cards in grade school when we would get marks like ‘Good,’ ‘Satisfactory,’ and ‘Unsatisfactory’ for our personal behavior. I was once in a class where the teacher asked us to make out our own report cards and explain the grades we gave ourselves. So I did that here, based on the cards I used to get. Here are the results:

I had to give myself an S- for General Deportment in my second twelve weeks because of getting too exuberant at a Women’s Basketball game in Gampel. But as you can see, I think I’m improving. I didn’t give myself any E’s (Excellent) since I can always do better. Besides, these are not adjusted for grade inflation!

The blog contains 17 entries for September alone, with lots of photos. In one he's pictured with the "UConn Marching Band’s clarinet section." He says, they "sent me this photo taken on the field after the Hofstra game. As I look at the picture, I’m not sure if that’s really me or if it’s another version of ‘Stand-Up Mike,’ that two-dimensional figure you might have seen around campus and last residing in Kevin Fahey’s office."

There is apparently something called "The Rock" on campus that appears to be literally an enormous rock that one is permitted to paint with birthday and other greetings.

There are his campaigns: "trayless dining" as a water conservation measure, the use of locally developed honey ("Honey Harvest" photos; "Dining Services harvested its first batch of honey from the hives they set up last spring . . ."), and the picnic he put on to promote graduate and professional education.

Some are his comments about UConn's academic achievements -- some EE and computer engineering students who've figured out how to send computer data as sound waves through water, or a faculty member with a sense of humor about her recently well-funded research on tape worms.

Some, like those of any blogger, describe his day: "This past weekend I took some time out from my usual work schedule to take in some UConn athletic events – it was a perfect weekend to be outside. I went to four games (football, softball, field hockey, men’s soccer) and we were 4-0 in those games."

And, of course, at a time when we're paying our football coach in the millions, putting an extra $30,000 into our UI president's "incentive package" (now $80,000), Wall Street executives are being permitted to keep their jobs and multi-million-dollar bonuses (rather than forcing their firms to go through bankruptcy, thereby requiring the executives to pay back the bonuses to the trustee in bankruptcy for creditors) as a "solution" to a problem these executives created for themselves and the global economy -- what a bright and shining moment it is to see someone, whose accomplishments have warranted a $100,000 bonus, turn that bonus back to his University because of the economic hard times.

You want class? That's class.

Class plus . . . impressive fundraising, serious academic accomplishment by faculty and students, mutual respect, a learning environment, coupled with a sense of fun and good humor with all. School just doesn't get much better than that.

All in all I'd say our Mike Hogan is doing all right on the east coast for an Iowa boy ("Born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa, Hogan earned his B.A. degree at the University of Northern Iowa, where he majored in English with minors in history and classics; his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees were conferred by The University of Iowa.").

I still miss him.
# # #


Anonymous said...

The ironies continue. Right now on the Press-Citizen Web site, in re last week's loss to Northwestern, the following headline: Ferentz defends assistants. Ferentz: "Be mad at me."

(If this were instead about the Stolar report, it might read: Mason blames assistants. Mason: "Be mad at them.")

Maybe Hogan had few detractors at UI because even when he decided against somebody, he could do it without demeaning or blaming them.

Anonymous said...

Nick - thanks for the update on Mike Hogan. It made me sad to see that he continues the class act there, that we could have had here, if the Board had seen through Gartner's egoistic impulses.

I am glad that he and Skorton are both doing well. Maybe Mason should read Hogan's blog and take a lesson or two.

Then again, if she ever rose to his level of integrity, the regents would probably fire her.

Anonymous said...

Mason has shown her true colors -- she has no willingness to take responsibility for this sad series of events. Not once has she suggested what SHE might do differently in a situation like this in the future.

Hogan didn't always make decisions I liked, but he took ownership of them and always listened very respectively and explained his position.

This is the kind of leader that Iowa needs.

Anonymous said...

i am one of the students who was a "hogan's hero" here -- i still am.

He listened to everyone -- students and faculty alike. he never blamed others when there was a problem -- he would look into it himself and take responsibility and solve it or explained why things were the way they were.

Now he's out in the east leading the administration at the University of Connecticut. What a shame. Mason doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself. It would be great if she'd ride off into the sunset and Hogan rode back in on a big white horse.

Anonymous said...

While I know it's time to get behind the university, it's hard not to be sad about what's happened here and wonder "what could have been?"

I think, though, that when it comes to responsibility, maybe we ought to all look at ourselves and ask what role we play in "what could have been?" We all have some responsibility for cultures we live in that promote violence against women, minorities, or anyone, for that matter. Maybe we should all be doing more about that. Maybe we all should have done more in the presidential search to look into Mason's problematic history at Purdue, which was indicative of a lack of integrity and failure to take responsibility for adverse events. And maybe we should all have done more to keep Mike Hogan at Iowa.

It's too late now. But maybe we all need to take some responsibility and do more to make things better here, now.