SPRINGFIELD — Former University of Illinois President Michael Hogan will get a soft landing after being pushed from his office.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — Former University of Illinois President Michael Hogan will get a soft landing after being pushed from his office.

Hogan will step down as president of the state’s flagship university July 1 after two years because of pressure from disgruntled faculty members.

But Hogan’s not done at the university. He’ll get a one-year paid sabbatical, during which he’ll collect a $285,100 paycheck, funded by a mix of students’ tuition and state dollars.

If he hasn’t found another job after his sabbatical, he’ll be a tenured history professor at the university. With this position, he’ll receive a salary of $285,100, a graduate assistant, secretarial support and $10,000 for research, as well as take on the teaching load of a research professor.

Gov. Pat Quinn wouldn’t comment on Hogan’s six-figure salary as a professor when asked several times at a news conference earlier this week. Quinn did say the move from president to professor was needed.

“I think he did his best, and it was probably the right thing to do to have this change, and I think it’s important for us to move on,” Quinn said.

But taxpayers won’t be able to move on, per se.

They’ll continue paying into the State University Retirement System, or SURS, on behalf of Hogan during his year off and his tenure as a professor. He’ll be eligible for a pension on July 1, 2015, at which time he’ll have paid into SURS for the five years necessary to be vested in the pension system.

Taxpayers will pay at least $94,240 toward Hogan’s retirement by the time he steps down as president, and will continue to pay at least $21,667.60 annually under his new contract.

Taxpayers will be cutting Hogan a check for nearly $2,000 a month for the rest of his life if he gets vested.

The “state government, in the long run, will be cutting the check for his time as university president, his year off and his tenure as an extremely well-paid history professor,” said Collin Hitt, senior director of governmental affairs for Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market think tank. “That is not appropriate.”

The faculty senate asked for Hogan’s resignation earlier in March. The request came after Hogan and the faculty’s relationship was strained to the point of breaking because Hogan tried to centralize more of the university’s operations at the Urbana-Champaign campus. In addition to Urbana-Champaign, the university has campuses in Chicago and Springfield.

Numerous messages left by Illinois Statehouse News with the University of Illinois for comment about Hogan’s new position, and requests to speak with Hogan himself for this story were not returned.

The money the state’s put into SURS on behalf of Hogan won’t disappear if he doesn’t stick around long enough to get vested.

“If the termination (of his employment) is prior to the five-year vesting date, the money is forfeited back to the state,” explained Beth Spenser, communication manager for SURS, in an email.

Under these circumstances, the money would end up in the general revenue fund, the state’s biggest pool of money that covers most of the operating budget of the state.

Hogan will also get what he’s put into SURS back, plus interest, if he doesn’t get vested.

Hogan has paid in $130,383.56 to SURS, which has earned him $15,279.91 in interest, through the end of 2011, according to SURS records obtained by Illinois Statehouse News.

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