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Friday, July 30, 2010

U of I's Empty Offer to Fired Teacher

A local Champaign reporter who has been interviewing me about the aforementioned affair told me earlier today about the U of I’s offer to Ken Howell. Apparently they have rehired him to teach one class per semester for $10, 000 per semester but he has to cut all ties with the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center. He asked me for my thoughts on the matter. Here is what I told him:

On the one hand, this is positive news. The commission of the faculty senate has put the lie to the claims by LAS that teaching about the Catholic faith in a class about Catholicism is hate speech. Nevertheless, the good fruit is laced with poison.

The offer seems to be exactly what I was afraid of. The prohibition against Dr. Howell’s association with the Newman Center is another violation of his academic freedom and it is likewise a violation of his freedom of religion. How many other adjuncts or part time faculty are prevented from working for an organization associated with their faith as a condition of employment?

The U of I appears to be making an economically untenable offer with the intent of voiding a 90+ year relationship with the Newman Center. I suspect that they are banking on the fact that since Dr. Howell cannot work for the Newman Center, which paid him a full professor’s salary, he will not be able to afford to take the position. The U of I is offering him perhaps a little more than a quarter of his Newman Center salary.

Read it all here.

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