UI Senate to take up academic freedom resolution

UI Senate to take up academic freedom resolution

URBANA — The University of Illinois Academic Senate on Monday is expected to take up a resolution affirming its support of the principles of academic freedom and fair employment, particularly as they relate to nontenured faculty like instructors and lecturers.

The nonbinding resolution was drafted by faculty and forwarded to the campus' advisory body following news reports that the university did not plan to renew the annual employment contract of James Kilgore, the former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Faculty also have been circulating a petition in support of Kilgore, who had proposed to teach some Global Studies courses this fall.

On Monday of this week, UI Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said no final decision has been made on Kilgore's appointment. A committee appointed by Adesida is expected to review the case and general policies and procedures on how the campus hires visiting, nontenured academics like Kilgore. The senate will meet at 3:10 p.m. Monday; it's the last meeting for the school year.

"Having a full senate discussion will be an excellent step seeing how without this (resolution), there wouldn't be much discussion," said Kay Emmert, an English instructor who was one of the sponsors of the resolution. "It's something that affects everyone," not just non-tenure track, in "how we evaluate what kind of teachers and teaching we want and whether or not we're judging that in accordance to senate approval or outside pressures," she said.

The resolution states that the senate endorses "principles of academic freedom, fair employment and appropriate autonomy for units in developing their own curriculum and evaluating instructional staff appropriate to it."

It also calls on the appropriate committees to investigate "possible abridgements of these principles, and take suitable action on their findings."

The Senate Executive Committee considered a similar resolution earlier in the week but did not recommend moving it on to the full senate because it included details that identified the instructor, making it a personnel matter.

Last week, the American Association of University Professors, the national group that defends academic freedom cases, sent a letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise outlining concerns about Kilgore's nonreappointment. AAUP associate secretary Anita Levy said the organization questioned "whether media reports highlighting Dr. Kilgore's felony conviction and political activities may have provoked an improperly political response to an academic decision."

Wise responded to the association this week. She said she is still reviewing Kilgore's potential for future employment and shares the organization's commitment to the values of academic freedom and shared governance.

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UrbanaJake wrote on May 03, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Which one of Kilgore's convictions was the good D.C. doctor talking about?  Another Pape/Kilgore/SLA scam. Typical.

Lostinspace wrote on May 03, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Could someone explain why the Kilgore matter is an academic freedom issue (as opposed to the nature of his background)?

UrbanaJake wrote on May 03, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Kilgore wasn't even qualified to teach his undergraduate Global Studies class. The illinois.edu's own web site for Global Studies says one has to be a graduate student or already an instructor to teach the course. Of course, the partner hire (his spouse is a tenured faculty) has everything to do with this. Kilgore made $17,000 teaching two classes -AND- was paid $25 per hour to research. On top of that he took airplane and train trips to Washington, D.C. and Chicago.  About $1,000 plus meals plus lodging. All on the taxpayer dime. (It's good to be a Pape/Kilgore, and hey, what's his Ph.D. in anyway, or does that question violate his academic freedom.) Here's your freedom: compete honestly for a job you are qualified for. No one cares about your criminal past. It's your unethical behavior today. (But to an SLAer, everyone else is always wrong and a "capitalist." How many Greenbacks per hour is Kilgore/Pape is getting? Only P. Wise knows. And she aint telling.)

Lostinspace wrote on May 03, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Academic freedom ensures that a faculty member *within the context of his class* can teach students without fear of retribution, provided that what s/he says is relevant to the description/syllabus of the course and provides information and analysis to students.  If Mr. Kilgore has said something in his class that violates this principle, what is it?  The discussion seems to be about his past, not about what he teaches.  If the University wishes to retain or release him in that basis, there is no argument, but that has nothing to do with academic freedom.

asparagus wrote on May 03, 2014 at 5:05 pm

It is interesting that public (outside of the University) feedback is seen as a corrupting influence on such matters at a public University. Hmmmm ...

This has little to do with academic freedom and an awful lot to do with entrenched liberals irked over the possibility of not having their way in their kingdom.

It will be interesting to see if the Chancellor has a spine and does the right thing.  I would be the first to applaud such an action, but I doubt that will happen.

Meanwhile, it is truly difficult to take seriously all of the righteous diversity propaganda that is spewn all over campus everyday when we all know there is no diversity of political thought tolerated at the U of I, and the concerns of those that are not leftist lemmings is of no import on campus. Don't expect me to take you seriously Chancellor until you start truly honoring everyone equally in thought and deed, including the victims of Kilgore's hate crimes.