University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Professor Punished for Teaching about Catholic Thought in Course about Catholic Thought

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Higher education can lower your expectations

    August 3, 2010

    Ever since the Second World War, professional educators have promoted a college or university education for the wrong reason, viz., to make more money than otherwise would be the case. Around 1965 the passion for the egalitarian and pacifistic goals of the left began to corrupt higher learning even more. Today one enrolls at one’s own risk. The fundamental error of the claim that college makes you richer is that those who succeed after college are likely to succeed without it. While many students have indeed gone on to prosperous careers, many others have not, dropping out at some point […]

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  • The Real Scandal at Illinois?

    July 19, 2010

    If you want to study Buddhist or Methodist or Jewish thought at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there are relevant courses in religious studies — courses where the instructors have been selected by a department of scholars, through standard academic procedures. But if you want to study Roman Catholicism, your instructors have been through different vetting — they will have been nominated by (and their salaries paid by) the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, a church organization independent of the university, set up to serve Catholic students at the university. This arrangement has existed for decades, and been opposed […]

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  • NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ on Two FIRE Cases about Christian Professors

    August 16, 2010

    National Public Radio’s All Things Considered discussed a couple of FIRE cases earlier this month. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, reporting for the show, covered a poll of 1,700 university scientists at “elite universities” which found that many of them say they self-censor when it comes to talking about their religion: Contrary to the stereotype that most scientists are atheists, [Rice professor Elaine Howard Ecklund] says, nearly half of them say they are religious. But when she did follow up interviews, she found they practice a “closeted faith.” “They just do not want to bring up that they are religious in an academic discussion. […]

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  • Update: UIUC Responds to FIRE’s Letter, Confirms Victory

    July 30, 2010

    As Adam noted earlier today, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has reversed its decision not to rehire Professor Kenneth Howell to teach Introduction to Catholicism. UIUC has offered to return him to his class this fall and to pay his salary. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is providing Howell with legal representation, reported this outcome yesterday, and UIUC has now confirmed this reversal to FIRE in a letter we have just received in response to our letter of July 16. The letter we received from Deputy University Counsel Steven A. Veazie is substantially the same as his […]

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  • Victory for Academic Freedom at UIUC

    July 30, 2010

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has reversed its unconstitutional decision not to rehire adjunct professor Kenneth Howell following a student complaint about the content of Howell’s teaching. Howell had compared different criteria for judging the morality of sexual conduct in an e-mail to his Introduction to Catholicism students, and the complaining student (who was not in Howell’s class) had objected to Howell’s elaboration of Catholic “Natural Moral Theory” criteria as it applied to homosexual sexual conduct. FIRE intervened on July 16, 2010, in a letter pointing out that it is constitutionally impermissible for a public college to refuse to […]

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  • Alliance Defense Fund Goes Head to Head with the University of Illinois over Howell Case

    July 21, 2010

    Late yesterday, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) reported that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has replied to ADF’s warning that it had violated the constitutional rights of adjunct professor Kenneth Howell. UIUC decided not to rehire him after he had been teaching for nine years. Its decision, by all indications, came because Howell had e-mailed the students in his class comparing what he described as Catholic and utilitarian criteria for making moral judgments about sexual conduct. FIRE also intervened in the case last week, and I provided further analysis of the situation on Monday. Today we examine the University of Illinois’ […]

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  • More Developments at UIUC in Case of Punished Catholic Professor

    July 19, 2010

    Meghan reported last week on FIRE’s letter to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert A. Easter in the matter of adjunct professor Kenneth Howell, who was let go as the teacher of his UIUC courses on Catholicism after he sent his students an e-mail comparing what he described as the Catholic and the utilitarian criteria for making moral judgments about sexual behavior. According to The News-Gazette, Associate Dean Ann Mester told other UIUC staff that “the e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with […]

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  • FIRE Intervenes after UIUC Professor Dismissed, Highlighting Violation of Academic Freedom

    July 16, 2010

    Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), was not rehired by the university after a student complained in an e-mail to the department chair that Dr. Howell was “inflammatory and downright insensitive” in his class on Catholicism. Howell had sent an e-mail to the students in his class comparing what he described as Catholic and utilitarian criteria for moral judgments about sexual conduct. The complaining student, who was not enrolled in Dr. Howell’s class, stated that the e-mail was “absurd” and constituted “hate speech.” Because he was let go from his university position, Dr. Howell also was […]

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