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12/8/2015 President’s Report

    • DATE: December 8, 2015
    • TO: Policy Committee
    • FROM: Harry Hilton, UIUC AAUP Chapter President
    • RE: President’s Monthly Report to Policy Committee (Nov – Dec 2015)

    Background checks for new hires: John Prussing and I met with Christophe Pierre (vice president for academic affairs) and Abbas Benmamoun (UIUC vice provost) on Thu Nov 19, on this topic. David O’Brien unfortunately could not make it due to prior commitments.
    I submitted a written report to the PC shortly thereafter.

    A revised draft of the background check document was presented to the Senate on Dec 7. While somewhat of an improvement over the original BoT document, it still now contains the substitute phrase for the purpose of the checks “to support … the international reputation of the University.” I find this too vague and all-inclusive requirement for hiring denial. Furthermore, the membership selection process and charge to the committees that will administer the process is not defined.

    However, the new document clearly states that the background checks are limited to new hires and only to current employees if ”they transition to security sensitive positions, which require background checks.”

    A separate resolution objecting to the background checks on the basis of their discriminatory nature independently submitted by a group of senators was discussed at great length and passed 50+ to 30+. As a senator I voted yes. Unless directed otherwise by the PC I will submit a written objection to the provost objecting to the entire idea, asking for a removal of the above vague cause for non hiring and asking for better defined procedures and committee structures dealing with the results of such background checks and appeals, should they be implemented.

    Communications with Board of Trustees: This week I will make another attempt to ask for a meeting with members of BoT to discuss necessary steps to accomplish censure removal. I have outlined these in a previous letter to the board – you have a copy. I will add the problem created by the BoT required background checks and the lack of shared governance when BoT drew up the edict with only consultations from HR and legal counsel.

    Removal from AAUP censure list: I am closely monitoring university and campus events that eventually should lead to our removal from the list and will keep you informed. USSP presented for first reading at the Nov 16, 2015, Senate meeting a Statute amendment dealing with academic appointments in regard to timely approvals, BoT authority delegations to the president and chancellors for appointment approvals below deans, campus and university administrators, etc. The document is back at USSP for some minor revisions and should be returned to the Senate for final approval at the first 2016 meeting. I will keep PC advised.

    Communication with National AAUP office (Anita Levy): On Dec 7, I received an email from Anita asking about current conditions at UofI. I told her that I will reply after this PC meeting.

    New Wozniak developments: Lou Wozniak emailed me a copy of his filing in the Urbana federal court regarding his dismissal and BoT procedures. The filled brief alleges:

    1. Violation of Constitution Rights – First Amendment – Free Speech
    2. Violation of Constitutional Rights Due Process of Law – Violation of Fourteenth Amendment
    3. State Law Pendent Claim – Whistle Blower Protection as to
      • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
      • Ilesanmi Adesida
      • Michael Hogan
      • Robert Easter
      • Laura Clower
      • Barbara Wilson
      • Christopher Kennedy
      • Phyllis Wise
      • Eric Johnson

    I will keep PC members advised of new future developments.

    Steve Kaufman filled a complaint with the national AAUP: Steve filled an official complaint regarding the sale of chief merchandize and the lack campus control over their trademark rights. National replied that this was a local matter and declined to get involved.

    Tenure workshop: Invitations have been issued to the provost and vice provost for the event. Once their availability is confirmed I will contact past panelists Jim Imlay and Craig Koslofsky.

    Formation of Policy Committee ad hoc committees: Email to the entire membership was sent immediately after last PC meeting asking for volunteers for the ad hoc Governance Committee. The response has been disappointing as we received only two positive volunteer replies.

    Some academic freedom and first amendment issues: I realize that this may prove to be an extremely unpopular issue but I feel that it is a topic that our PC needs to discuss. Let me say that that I hold no personal affinity to white supremacy groups and as a matter of fact abhor everything they stand for and advocate.

    Nevertheless, I believe we need to address the following issues: After their one-sided and in my view obnoxious recent postings, the UIUC administration caused their postings to be removed from the website. Question: Is this not a first amendment violation and if they should be a university affiliated group an academic freedom denial? Unless they advocate some illegal action(s) should we not equally defend their right to free speech? After all if purple-eyed people can form their own campus group, then should not white supremacists have the same freedom of speech and assembly guarantees?

    By this report I am asking the chapter’s academic freedom committee to consider the matter and report back to the PC at its next January 2016 meeting.