Friday, September 24, 2010

Worthy of tenure, but not emeritus status?

Conservatives are enjoying the story that the University of Illinois at Chicago has denied Bill Ayers emeritus status based on his dedicating a book to, among others, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy's son, a member of the school's board, spoke out to deny him the largely honorific status.
The University of Illinois on Thursday denied 1960s radical William Ayers emeritus faculty status after trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy noted Ayers dedicated a book to, among others, the man who killed Kennedy's father, Robert F. Kennedy.

All nine voting trustees either opposed granting Ayers, a recently retired University of Illinois-Chicago professor, the largely honorary status or abstained from the vote. Universities often grant emeritus status to distinguished retired faculty members. At Illinois it doesn't come with any monetary benefits, spokesman Tom Hardy said.

Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, an anti-war group held responsible for a series of bombings during the Vietnam War era, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

Trustees voted after a speech by Kennedy in which he noted the 1974 book "Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism," by Ayers and other members of the Weather Underground. The book includes a dedication to a lengthy list of revolutionary figures, musicians and others, including Sirhan Sirhan, who shot Robert Kennedy to death in 1968 after the New York senator declared victory in the California Democratic presidential primary.

"There is nothing more antithetical to the hopes for a university that is lively and yet civil, or to the hopes of our founding fathers for their great experiment of a self-governing people, than to permanently seal off debate with one's opponents by killing them," Kennedy said. "There can be no place in a democracy to celebrate political assassinations or to honor those who do so."
The guy was suitable to teach at the university for over 20 years and to lead programs to train teachers, yet now they put their foot down over giving him the title of emeritus?

They hired him in the first place and kept him there as a respected member of their faculty. Pardon me, but I'm not impressed with the university's fortitude of coming out against the idea of honoring assassins.