UI trustees to consider professor's termination

UI trustees to consider professor's termination

URBANA — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees is expected to decide the fate of a longtime engineering professor later this month when it convenes a dismissal hearing.

UI President Bob Easter has recommended trustees strip Professor Louis Wozniak of his tenure following several allegations of misconduct.

"If tenure is removed, I think it would end his employment status. It's fair to say it's tantamount to termination," said UI counsel Tom Bearrows.

The College of Engineering has prohibited Wozniak, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, from teaching since August 2010 following several alleged incidents. Wozniak is a UI graduate and has been a faculty member since 1966.

Administrators have claimed Wozniak, after learning he received the most student votes for a teaching award in 2009 but was not given the award, disclosed a student's grade to others and sought student support for his grievance; videotaped students without written consent; appeared before a class after he was suspended from teaching; and violated university policy by sending an email message to students in which he said students should remind him of their names because "I only remember the names of GKs I've had sex with," referring to the students as "grandkids."

Wozniak later apologized to students and said the joke was in bad taste.

After a year-long review, a faculty committee concluded that although Wozniak behaved inappropriately, he should not be fired.

"Being a self-righteous, obsessed and insensitive person is not cause to dismiss," the report said.

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, however, did impose certain conditions, such as refraining from talking to students about the award or publishing student information. Wozniak maintains a website, http://www.illethics.info in which he has amassed hundreds of pages of documents about his background and his case.

The university claims Wozniak has not followed those conditions, which Wozniak disputes. He also claims to have gone through those documents to remove student information, although he believes he is not legally required to do so.

UI President Bob Easter in February forwarded the charges seeking dismissal of Wozniak to trustees, citing Article 10 of the university statutes which outlines the process for when the university wants to fire a tenured professor.

A hearing before trustees represents the last step in the university's process for firing a tenured professor.

"At the end of the day, the board is the ultimate decision maker on this," Bearrows said.

A tenure dismissal case before trustees is rare; most are settled quietly before reaching the president or trustees.

The last time trustees heard a dismissal case is believed to have occurred in the early 1960s after Leo Koch, an assistant professor of biology, advocated for premarital sex in a letter to the Daily Illini student newspaper. After the UI fired Koch, the American Association of University Professors censured the university for what it said was a lack of due process.

The trustees are expected to meet in closed session for Wozniak's hearing because the subject is personnel. Public notice will be posted 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Wozniak is hoping to delay the hearing, and he and his lawyer are asking for more time to prepare. He also said he needs more time to present his case during the actual hearing. He said he will be given 40 minutes: 20 minutes to present his case and 20 minutes for cross-examination.

"The major defense is that CAFT (Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure) trying to put a muzzle order on me is not legal," Wozniak said.

Wozniak said he's still open to a settlement. He wants to return to teaching, have his legal fees paid and have an engineering administrator involved in the teaching award removed from her position.

"I dearly would like to get back to class. I love my students and they love me," Wozniak.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on September 13, 2013 at 7:09 am
Profile Picture

I prefer ideas to ideology. Thus I prefer Lou.  

pk1187 wrote on September 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Professor Wozniak was one of the best professors I had while studying General Engineering. He really helped you to actually learn and understand the material, was always available to help, and genuinely seemed to care about students. Myself and many of my friends did indeed vote for him for the award he should have received. It's a shame what the university is doing to him.

Lostinspace wrote on September 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Put the big fish in Springfield with monster salaries and fry the little fish.

wayward wrote on September 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

Interesting -- Wozniak's been on the faculty since 1966, yet hasn't made it to full professor.  His salary is even lower than some of the current assistant professors.  That would probably suggest that he hadn't been viewed as a star performer, and he may have alienated other faculty members well before the incidents in the article.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on September 14, 2013 at 2:09 am
louis wozniak wrote on September 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm

It appears reporter Des Garennes forgot key points, i.e., that the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) found that of all allegations, which were indeed true, all but one were appropriate for the circumstances. For the joke, they accepted my apology.  Please see their Final Report and get the full story on a video  on www.ILLethics.com .  In footnote 11, p.52, the Report comments that, "..the ethics of the course of deception practiced ... by the College of Engineering is beyond ... this proceedings."

What is really hilarious is that a Committee on Academic Freedom should recommend imposition of a gag order regarding a persons' emotional status following coming clean from lies,  but not muzzle disclosure of lies themselves.

BTW I didn'g get the bit of sending the high wages to Springfield.  Pls explain.

Lastly, that slug professor was elected Fellow of the IEEE (Electrical Engineers), Chaired a Technical International Committee for two years, and was elected his department's best teacher multiple consecutive times by gtraduating seniors.

lw

Lostinspace wrote on September 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I didn'g get the bit of sending the high wages to Springfield.

 

Prof. Hogan.

louis wozniak wrote on September 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thanks.  Got it!

JimmyB wrote on September 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

In the REAL WORLD he would have been terminated. I can guarantee you that there have been other inappropriate comments, this is not the first! As a tax payer my vote is TERMENATE HIM!

alabaster jones 71 wrote on September 20, 2013 at 1:09 am
Profile Picture

Oh, you're a taxpayer?  Well then, you definitely have some input over the matter.

vcponsardin wrote on September 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm

No doubt Professor Wozniak works hard as a teacher.  But there is still the question of why he remains an Associate Professor after all these years.  I assume lack of sufficient publications?  Lack of substantial national reputation?  Or is there something more to all this that the unfortunate incidents of the last few years may reveal are only the tip of the iceberg?  Is he a caustic colleague?  Is he obstructionist?  Does he alienate himself from the rest of his field in some way?  Has he a history of making such inappropriate "jokes"?  Or is this a case of ageism?  Is the Engineering program so poor that they need his tenured line for a new, younger (certainly not cheaper) facutly member?  It just seems a bit odd that the university would go so far to remove him.  There must be something more to all this that's not being revealed by either side.

louis wozniak wrote on September 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm

VCPONSARDIN - Look at  my reply three above and www.ILLethics.com

vcponsardin wrote on September 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

I have.  And my questions remain unanswered.  This is a very odd thing.  There must be something more to your 1995 teaching suspension, for example.  Merely failing to hand in private grading notes can't be the only reason you were suspended for so long.  It appears you've been a thorn (for good or bad, doesn't matter to me) in the university's side for quite some time.  But no university would pursue such a case with such energy if there wasn't something more to it than we're seeing either in the press or on your personal website.  Your inappropriate joke (you've admitted was wrong) from a few years ago appears to be the catalyst for further action against you that must stem back years for other reasons that are not being made public--either by you or the university.  I find the situation both sad and curious from all sides.  And I am in no position to know the truth behind the details of your nearly 20-year gripe with Engineering or the University.  All I can conclude is that something else must be going on that neither you nor the university are willing to discuss openly.  (As for your permanent associate professor status, I can assume I am correct that lack of publication is one reason.)

bkp wrote on September 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Best of luck.

wayward wrote on September 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm

In a nutshell, it seems like UI was sort of willing to put up with Wozniak battling with faculty, staff, and administrators.  It didn't exactly make him popular, and the time and energy invested in the conflict probably didn't enhance his productivity.

I think what was considered intolerable was students getting dragged into the drama.  If you search the circuit clerk's site, there's a civil suit, and I think the two defendants had been UI students that had had some role in the disputed teaching awards.

WTPayne wrote on September 17, 2013 at 6:09 am

Seriously?  The U had a professor use the US mail  claiming to represent the U without any authority to do so (documented in this paper about 10 years ago) and he became an emeritus professor, and this guy makes a tasteless joke and gets fried?  Seriously? 

Seriously?  The U routinely turns its back on professors giving away their research in the name of academic freedom, some of it worth milions, possibly billions, of dollars - and someone not loved by his co-workers gets the attention of the Trustees?  Seriously?

Wozniak - retire before they cook you.  You have the time in to do it.  Just do it.  You've obviously pissed off the powers that be, take the money and run.

 

ractivist wrote on September 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I find the whole thing relative.  We have professors dedicated to overthrowing the free market captialist Republic, allowed to run rampant, yet they go after W?  What Bill Ayers did for a career is horrendous.  What McChesney (Net Neutrality fame) is still doing is treasonous, yet they did not pursue a request for an investigation of academic misconduct on him.  Why is that?  The man is on record stating his goals; to dismantle the Republic and rebuild in a socialist communist framework?    He is dedicated to overthrowing our freedoms people.  Sure he comes across as a nice harmless guy, but his efforts will and are removing our safety net, as the government is taking control of the internet.  What is that about, compare it with W.  WTF.  No need to go into Ayers, everyone now knows this scum bag professors works to undermine freedom.

When the University takes an official call for an investigation and responds with the comments that they may or may not pursue based on a review boards decision.  That they may or may not respond in any way to the request.  That you have no feedback whatsoever to expect from said request for investigation.  Maybe you will see it in the news, maybe not?

COVER UP?

What else is this.  Why does the university get away with this approach given it is a public institution?  The administraitors do as they please within the framework they create and recreate as needed.  Just as government does.

 

Good luck W.  Given the severity of the allegations (sarcasm), I see no basis for tenure being removed.  You should be working to earn your keep, that's my take.

 

I also urge you to google "Radical Teacher", printed here at the University Press.  How many professors publish here, how many work for this rag maker.  Is that free speech on the public's dollar, geared to underming education, dumbing down the populace?  Should someone there be investigated?

 

And they spend their resources fighting Wozniak.  Remember the professor who was one of the founders for the Man Boy Love Association?  He is now retired, yet no one tried to remove him for promoting sodomy at this fine institution.  The honorable professors at this university need to clean house.  Contest the BS that has taken control.

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 19, 2013 at 11:09 am

Tasteless joke in an email gets you years of lockdown and possible termination.

Steal the band equipment and sell it on ebay and it's just an understandible reaction to the frustration that is the paperwork bureaucracy and a quiet resignation that is all that is required.

Become the chancellor and use your girlfriend err umm I mean personal assistant to send annonymous emails as a political move. You get tenure and a 6 figure bonus to write a term paper on the Marshall plan (because no one knows about that and there are so many unanswered questions)

Be the president and yet another chancellor and sell admissions to idiot sons of political goons. You get tenure and huge compensation packages and when you get caught try and pin the blame on civil service secretarial staff as a paperwork blunder.

Be yet another chancellor and spend your time working on holiday videos and a "30 to 50 year plan" when you can't even address if you can make the payroll for 30 to 50 weeks and get paid $500,000+ a year while also being on the board of Nike that has an obvious interest in college sports business. Claim to have equal pay for women as part of your plan while your labor negotiators try and tear down the pay structure that ensures that very equality.

I guess I'm the only pattern seeking primate here...

Well...at least we're not Penn State...right?

Hi would you like to donate to the University of Illinois? *click*