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 letter to ADF. For now, we are happy to report that Howell’s immediate future as a UIUC professor is no longer in doubt. In the longer term, one thing to keep watching is the official review of the initial decision not to rehire Howell, as Veazie notes:
The Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure will continue its review of the situation surrounding the earlier decision not to offer Dr. Howell a teaching assignment for the fall semester, and we look forward to receiving this committee’s report.
This report is important because the principles involved go far beyond Howell’s case. The treatment of Howell undoubtedly sent a chilling effect through the ranks of the university’s faculty. FIRE and many others are looking forward to seeing the report, and we will keep Torch readers updated on this case.