The Little Orange & Blue Book: Quotations from Chairman Kennedy

Greetings, friends, from the Campus Faculty Association! Members of the university community have been urged to value civility as much as scholarship(1).  In this spirit, we can learn much from the wisdom of the Board of Trustees on issues of the day. For this reason we are proud to present:

The Little Orange & Blue Book: Quotations from Chairman Kennedy

On the proper structure of leadership at the university. Board of Trustees chair Christopher Kennedy praised Michael Hogan in November 2011 for articulating a “tone at the top” that emphasizes “more transparency, accountability, integrity and fairness.” (2)

He continued to praise Hogan more than a year later. “I think it’s hard to win the war and win the peace. Mike fundamentally reorganized the university, and when he left, it was like Churchill after the war,” Kennedy said, referring to the British prime minister who led his country to victory in World War II, yet lost a subsequent peacetime election. (3)

On the proper importance of the faculty (the context was Lisa Troyer’s move from an administrative to a faculty position, to which many objected). Kennedy said the board had purview over Troyer’s administrative position, as she reported directly to the president “who reported to us.” But as a faculty member, her reporting line would go through a department head, dean, provost and chancellor first, he said. “We don’t want to get involved in something six levels deep into the university,” he said. (4)

On the role of academic freedom for NTTs (the context was the non-renewal of James Kilgore’s contract). “We’re not reacting to public pressure. If this was an issue of academic freedom, we would stand up for it. This is an hourly employee who doesn’t have tenure. It’s completely different,” Kennedy said. (5)

On the effect of the  Lisa Troyer email scandal on the university. Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the board of trustees, said the email scandal has been “disturbing.” “It is expensive and time-consuming to everyone involved. It is disruptive..” (6)

Bonus quote from Chancellor Wise in an email released during the scandal. “In my concept of leadership, it is extraordinarily important to pay attention both to the people who report to me as well as those to whom I report.” (7)

On the value of hearing input from faculty. Kennedy said some of the issues raised by faculty are “peripheral to the core values we think a strong president brings.” But he added, “The fact that each of you is concerned about these points, though, is concerning in and of itself. You are the heart and the soul of the University, and your presence here continues to make the University great.” (8)

“We want all the faculty to understand that they have an important role in the leadership of the university and we are convinced over the next month or two we will see evidence of the president’s leadership along those lines,” Kennedy said. “I think we have some of our incredible, important professors writing letters to us expressing their concern and that in of itself represents concern on the part of the trustees.” (9)

On the importance of careful language. “The words we use matter a lot,” he added. (10)

On the Board of Trustees’ attitude towards Prof. Salaita. “Our intention isn’t to hurt him financially,” Kennedy said. “We don’t like to see that. We are not trying to hurt the guy. We just don’t want him at the university.” (11)

Have we learned our lessons?

What do you think, dear colleagues? Chairman Kennedy invites our input in (8) and (9).  Don’t be disruptive (6).  NTTs are hourly employees who have no academic freedom (5).   He doesn’t want to get six layers deep into university business (4).  Remember that words matter (10). And we are not trying to hurt the guy. (11)

Submit your comments to <UIBOT@uillinois.edu> or to Chancellor Wise <pmwise@illinois.edu>. We’re sure they would love to hear from you about the appropriate role for faculty at the U of Illinois!

Campus Faculty Association thinks a union for faculty is the best way to make sure we are really heard and that our words carry weight at UIUC. Our email address is <campusfacultyassoc@gmail.com>. We’d love to hear from you too!

References

(1) BOT letter to faculty, 8/22/14
(2) Chicago Tribune, 1/8/12
(3) State Journal-Register, 4/21/13
(4) News-Gazette, 1/20/12
(5) News-Gazette, 5/9/14
(6) Chicago Tribune, 2/2/12
(7) Email to Michael Hogan, 1/8/12
(8) News-Gazette, 2/28/12
(9) Chicago Tribune, 3/5/12
(10) News-Gazette, 5/9/14
(11) Chicago Tribune, 8/29/14