Catholic World News

University of Illinois offers to reinstate Catholic professor fired for his views

July 30, 2010

The University of Illinois has offered to reinstate a Catholic faculty member who was dismissed after he explained Church teachings on homosexuality.

University officials announced that they would welcome Kenneth Howell back to campus as an adjunct professor, to teach a course on Catholicism. His faculty appointment had been terminated after he was accused of “hate speech,” for sending an email to a student in which, responding to the student’s question, he accurately summarized the Church’s teachings.

The offer to Howell came after the Alliance Defense Fund announced that it would file a lawsuit against the University of Illinois unless the professor was reinstated. A spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund said that the school had “righted the wrong by letting Ken Howell back into the classroom.”

Howell’s course on Catholicism had been approved and scheduled by the University of Illinois as a regular part of the curriculum. But he was paid by the campus Newman Center, as part of a longstanding arrangement that provided faculty members to teach religion courses. Some members of the faculty had objected to that relationship, insisting that the university should have full control of faculty hiring decisions. In its July 29 announcement that Howell would be welcomed back, the university emphasized that in the future, Howell would be paid directly by the university, and the arrangement with the Newman Center would be terminated.

The unusual relationship between the university and the Newman Center was not raised as an issue when Howell was dismissed. His supporters on the Illinois campus—who had vigorously protested his firing—argued that he was dismissed solely for expressing orthodox Catholic views, in a clear violation of religious and academic freedom. Because Howell is an adjunct professor, without the benefit of tenure protection, the long-term implications of the university’s offer to reinstate him remain uncertain.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Jul. 31, 2010 1:45 AM ET USA

    here's how this will play out. newman center link has been cut. university now pays him; he's not tenured. in a year or so, he'll be dropped/fired for some reason or another - cutbacks et cetera while tuition of course will rise. pls don't forget this prof when that happens...

  • Posted by: Lilacs2me - Jul. 30, 2010 7:16 PM ET USA

    He was only reinstated due to threat of a lawsuit. How is it that a professor, hired to teach a course on Catholicism, cannot tell his students what the Church teaches? This is worse than Twilight Zone!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 30, 2010 4:28 PM ET USA

    This is still deeply troubling. He wasn't 'vindicated', he merely had his unjust termination rescinded under the duress of publicity. What will happen when the Liberals get to do their deeds in the dark?