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.