U. of Illinois Officials Kept Secrets by Using Personal Emails

Top officials at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used personal email accounts to converse about a series of campus controversies, apparently as a means of shielding the messages from the state’s open-records laws, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In 1,100 pages of emails that the university said on Friday it was releasing “in the interest of transparency and disclosure,” administrators exchange messages on such controversies as the rescinding of a job offer to Steven G. Salaita and the hiring of James W. Kilgore.

Many emails, the Tribune reported, are from the account of Phyllis M. Wise, who resigned unexpectedly on Thursday over what she described as a series of “external issues.” One email from Ms. Wise ended with the observation: “This place is so messed up.”

“A desire to maintain confidentiality on certain sensitive University-related topics was one reason personal email accounts were used to communicate about these topics,” according to a U. of I. press release. “Some emails suggested that individuals were encouraged to use personal email accounts for communicating on such topics.”

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