Professor in talks to return to Newman Center
CHAMPAIGN – An adjunct professor who got his job back with the University of Illinois last week may also be returning to the Newman Center.
Kenneth Howell, who has taught Catholic theology at the Urbana campus since 2001, will be teaching a class a semester on a year-to-year basis, the UI said last week. Now, the Peoria Diocese said the professor is in talks with the Newman Center about his future there.
Patricia M. Gibson, chancellor of the Peoria diocese, did not return a call from The News-Gazette on Monday.
"St. John's Catholic Newman Center intends to meet with Dr. Howell next week to determine an ongoing role for him at the Newman Center which will complement his work teaching at the university," a release from the diocese said.
David Hazen, Newman's communications director, said Howell could be back at Catholic center "soon" but said his understanding was that specifics of any deal "are still to be determined."
David Hacker, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Foundation representing the professor, said he didn't know the status of the Newman negotiations.
"He hasn't made a decision yet on the University of Illinois offer, but we fully expect he'll teaching in the classroom in the fall," Hacker said.
In May, Howell was told he would no longer teach at the UI after a student complained about an e-mail in which Howell discussed the Catholic church's views on homosexuality and natural law and utilitarian views of homosexual acts. The student called the e-mail hate speech.
Howell was also then released from his post as director of the Institute of Catholic Thought, part of St. John's Catholic Newman Center and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.