Some faculty want more say in UI background-check policy

Some faculty want more say in UI background-check policy

URBANA — Less than a month before background checks are set to begin on all University of Illinois hires, administrators working to implement the policy are getting pushback from faculty members.

The background check policy was approved by the UI Board of Trustees Thursday and is set to go in effect on Oct. 5, but the academic senate will vote next week on a resolution to delay that start date.

The resolution asks the board to delay the implementation of the policy, saying it doesn't meet American Association of University Professors standards and is not mentioned in all active job postings. Many of the postings were made before the policy was approved, meaning applicants who have already applied may not be aware of it.

One of the four professors who proposed the resolution is Teresa Barnes. Barnes is the wife of James Kilgore, an adjunct instructor who came under fire for his criminal past.

Interim Provost Ed Feser said his office has worked hard to balance fairness to candidates and liability.

"We have a very high rate of incarceration in the United States. Diversity is a significant interest of ours," Feser said. "We worked very hard to make sure that we protect the search process as much as we can while meeting that policy directive. "

In a presentation to the Senate Executive Committee on Monday, Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policies, explained the procedure to faculty leaders:

— Candidates who accept job offers must agree to a criminal background check, which will take about three days.

— There will be a conviction review committee made up of academic and staff HR professionals, UI police, legal counsel and at least two faculty members. The committee will make a decision on whether a conviction is related to the candidate's position at the university before deciding whether to hire or reject that person.

— Candidates would not be automatically barred because of a past conviction, and they would have the ability to defend themselves. All candidates are given an individualized assessment based on age at time of a conviction, how much time has elapsed since and their experience afterward.

Katherine Galvin, associate provost for administrative affairs, pointed out that all criminal convictions are public records, and the UI will not have any conviction information until after a contingent offer has been made.

Deborah Stone, director of academic human resources, said that about 1 percent of hires would have to be adjudicated using this process. Faculty members asked about having more faculty representation on the review committee or members being chosen based on discipline and availability.

Benmamoun said the policy is no different than those at peer institutions, and it's a board mandate the campus must put in place.

"I am sure we have to continue to make adjustments. If you have any input on how we can do this better, on how we can mitigate any adverse effects on faculty hiring, please let me know," he said. "We're doing the best we can to implement this board policy in the fairest way possible."

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MasterOfTheObvious wrote on September 15, 2015 at 9:09 am

The poor faculty of the University of Illinois is so abused.  It's amazing that they can make it out of bed in the morning to actually go to work 3-4 days a week and watch as their TA's teach their high priced classes, attended by kids who are going into debt buying their overpriced textbooks and course packs that no one else in the world would ever read unless it was mandated by the almighty faculty.  Of course, these academicians and trustees of the "Academy" are doing first class research, and then get published in academic journals that no one other than their own peers read, leaving 99.9999% of the earth's population indifferent to anything they do. Sounds like a great gig, join the faculty of Illinois, do nothing that really impacts anyone else, have a job for life, cry if anyone dare disagree with you or do anything that you feel is "unjust", all the while you get to behave like a spoiled chlld and reign down hell fire on everyone else in the word because they are not your high and mighty intellectual equal.

The Faculty get tenure, so they can never be fired.

The Faculty are the ones who vote on tenure, so they protect their own.

The Faculty opposes background checks, because they want to have the freedom to hire their criminal friends and have them join the job for life club.

The Faculty ran the previous Chancellor out because she opposed the hiring of Salaita, now they will set their sights on the Interim Chancellor because she wants to have background checks.


rsp wrote on September 15, 2015 at 5:09 pm

This started under Wise.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Academia, the last bastion of the Middle Ages....  "Yes my lord, I will clean the coffee pot right after I transcribe your thoughts.  No my lord, I never have doubted your honesty due to your superior intellect.  Yes my lord, the light switch toggle must be either up or down for the lights to go on, or off."