Emeritus status for Ayers denied

Emeritus status for Ayers denied

URBANA — In a move that hasn’t happened for years, University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted to deny a professor emeritus status Thursday.

Chairman Chris Kennedy of Chicago, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, said he would not vote for emeritus status for University of Illinois at Chicago Professor William Ayers.

The rest of the trustees agreed to vote no, without discussion.

Ayers, a former ’60s radical, was one of four authors of a 1974 book, “Prairie Fire,” a manifesto of the radical Weather Underground.

Ayers joined the UI Chicago faculty in 1987 as an education professor and retired this summer.
“Prairie Fire” is dedicated to, among other radical heroes, Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Kennedy’s father.

Kennedy, who is usually genial in meetings, looked down as he spoke, and his voice cracked. The room was silent.

Ayers did not return an e-mail request for comment Thursday evening.

Longtime UI spokesman Thomas Hardy said he could not remember another UI professor being denied emeritus or emerita status.

“It’s highly unusual,” he said. “I consulted with people who have worked here for many decades.”

But Kennedy noted that emeritus status can be denied in the statutes. It is not a right, but a privilege, he told the other trustees.

The UI Chicago handbook notes:

“The granting of emeritus status to retiring faculty and senior administrative staff members is based on merit. At UI-C, the emeritus designation is regarded as an extraordinary title that is given for extraordinary service.”

Kennedy said he had given reflection to the words of scholars like John Henry Newman in choosing his path.

“I have been chosen to play this role as trustee in part because of my experiences in a wide range of fields which ensure that my actions are familiar to others and therefore predictable and hopefully reflective of the expected communal conscience of our state,” he told the trustees. “There are times like today when we must make difficult decisions and perhaps those that are controversial or simply create a spectacle.”

Kennedy then moved on to the specific case of Ayers.

“While the process of conferring emeritus status may end with the board of trustees, it is important to note that it must begin with the individual faculty member who must request this honorific status for themselves,” he said. “Apparently, Mr. Ayers, who has been a teacher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has asked for this privilege and honor to be bestowed on him. Our discussion of this topic therefore does not represent an intervention into the scholarship of the university, nor is it a threat to academic freedom.”

Kennedy, who runs a large family business in Chicago, the Merchandise Mart, continued:

“I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy. There can be no place in a democracy to celebrate political assassinations or to honor those who do so.”

After the meeting, several trustees said they would rather not comment on the vote out of respect to Kennedy.

Kennedy was not available for comment after the meeting.

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bluegrass wrote on September 23, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I like it.

That Ayers is on the state payroll makes me ill. He belongs in prison.

CharacterCounts wrote on September 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

I would like to compliment the UI Board of Trustees for having the integrity to vote against granting a person who in my opinion has been a supporter of terrorism and perhaps participated himself in acts of terrorism the status of professor emeritus. To the credit of the Chris Kennedy, he provided leadership to the Board to deny Ayers a status he deemed he should be granted. With Ayers political relationship at one time with President Obama this was not an easy vote for the members of the Board who are Democrats.
So I express my thanks to the leadership of the UI to finally take a stand against Ayers which it should have done long ago. The current board has certainly earned a lot of respect from my perspective for this vote.

William_D wrote on September 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

How do Obama and Ayers occupying seats on the board of the Annenberg Foundation constitute a "political relationship?" You just threw out an unsubstantiated lie. Your handle "CharacterCounts" obviously doesn't apply to you.

ZeroSum wrote on September 24, 2010 at 6:09 am

While I applaude the trustees for denying status to Ayers, the bigger question is why he was a professor instead of being in jail?

"Guilty and Hell, Free as a Bird"

Bill Ayers' famous quip may come back to haunt him. There is no statute of limitations on murder charges.

On February 16, 1970, someone planted a bomb at San Francisco's Park Police Station. It was placed in a window of the business office and timed to explode at shift change, when the maximum number of officers would be there, either finishing up or starting their work.

It was a powerful blast, throwing one officer in the station parking lot completely over his patrol car and sending shrapnel for over two city blocks. The bomb fortunately detonated a few minutes early so the destruction was less than it might have been. Still, nine were wounded, one -- Officer Robert Fogarty -- badly enough that he retired from the force on disability, and one, Sergeant Brian McDonnell, 45 year old married father of two, was killed.

EdRyan wrote on September 24, 2010 at 6:09 am

If Ayers wants the honorific badly enough, it will be interesting to see how the lawsuit turns out.

wtechau wrote on September 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

I am glad this man has been denied special status. Someone who sympathizes with a man who murders another in cold blood does not deserve to be honored. What alarms me is that a state institution, supported in part by my taxes, has employed a terrorist associate for years. How is this acceptable? What logic am I missing? What sort of terrorist bent has Ayers instilled in students training to be teachers of children? Unacceptable.

sahuoy wrote on September 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

Freedom of speech allows anyone, no matter how absurd, to speak their thoughts. The true freedom of speech rest rest in those listening and discerning the value of what is said. Ayers employment at the U of I Chicago only shows everyone that even a fool can fool all the people some of the time but cannot fool all of the people all of the time by requesting his emeritus after retiring, after never retracting or apologizing for his disrespect, callous, grotesque comments.

I am more ashamed of the U of I for employing a man supporting an event that left a man dead for speaking his mind by a man that chose to speak his mind through a gun. Ayers right to freedom of speech was protected but did not need an endorsement of U of I employment supporting his freedom of speech and then to simultaneously support such disrespect to the Kennedy family after years of service and reflection only shows the calibre of wisdom and lack of insight from the U of I even if all they really wanted was some publicity.

Perfect timing to coincide with the drop in school ranking to show the world why U of I really slid after this Ayers debacle has played itself out. Just sayin... Amazing how Ayers respects his freedom of speech more than the tragic murder of a man using his freedom of speech. I've heard stories from U of I students of just how vain and conceded U of I professors are... wOw

ConradCA wrote on September 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

This shows the true evil and bankruptcy of the left and our educational system. The praise that Ayers gives to Sirhan Sirhan is just a reflection of the evil he demonstrated by his actions. How is it that they care more about what he wrote in a book than the evil he has done? They support his works of evil, murder and bombings, because they don't care those victims. They are just peasants and inferior to their hero Robert Kennedy.

They should all be fired and something should be done to prevent Ayers and Ward Churchill and other like minded idiots from teaching. Otherwise they might as well open up our schools the Nazis and members of the klan.

"All animals are equal but some are more equal than others".

ractivist wrote on September 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

Good cop bad cop.

The university perpetuates the social justice curriculum add nauseum. It is the sole focus of Ayers. The university still protects the subversion of academia. The admnistrators across the country uphold all of Ayers teachings. They are part and parcel the same cancer. This is but an orchestrated move to save face to the ignorant, who think politics as usual today. The country is being stolen, using the social justice mentality. Green is but a comrade in a different front. The Isreali issue. Divide and conquer is the tactic. Social justice relies on this division,not unity.

Look between the lines people. Nothing has changed but Ayers is now off the hook.

Do not give this uiversity money, pass the word.

dillon715 wrote on September 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm


William_D wrote on September 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

How do Obama and Ayers occupying seats on the board of the Annenberg Foundation constitute a "political relationship?" You just threw out an unsubstantiated lie. Your handle "CharacterCounts" obviously doesn't apply to you.

bluegrass wrote on September 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

I think most would admit the relationship between Obama and Ayers is a pretty loose connection. To call it an unsubstantiated lie that there was a political connection is going too far. Ayers threw a party to introduce Obama to those in his political circle when Obama was running for Senate.

But this all distracts from the real story here: Ayers finally gets some kind of retribution for his actions, even if it isn't even close to the kind of punishment that he actually deserves.

morfin wrote on October 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

Hardly a loose connection.
You don't throw parties for peo[le you don't regard as special.
If Obama is special to an unrepentant terrorist like Ayers, that's a black mark to Barack Husein.
But as you say, the issue that should be the focus of attention is why anybody, even Ayers himself, would think he deserved any honor available in the America of which he has always chosen to be hostile.
The decision to refuse him has been watched closely abroad, and applauded, not least by expats here in Jakarta, where the blog Ross's Right Angle has made frequent reference to Ayers' evil record.

Anna V. Epelbaum wrote on November 06, 2010 at 12:11 pm

The policies of Mr. Obama show pretty clear that he has been hostile to USA majority within last two years. The question is that he, no matter what, is still continuing to be this majority's president.
Why is this happening, ah? What does the position of emeritus include? Does it include any regular pension? Or does it include any other privileges? If so, it should be denied to Ayers. I do not believe in the fairness of UICU decisions, but this one above is very obvious.