Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?”

Go here to read the rest.  This is good news unless it ends in a white wash of this bigoted firing.  The pressure must be kept up so that Dr. Howell is reinstated, and a clear message sent that Catholics are not going to tolerate this type of bigotry against them by a tax supported institution.

10 Responses to Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

  1. Mike Petrik says:

    Agreed. This is not only a violation of academic freedom, it is a violation of religious liberty. Based on what I have read this decision does not just cross a line, it seeks to move the line to an unconstitutional place. A state university cannot fire a professor from the position of teaching Catholicism just because he actually believes in Catholicism.

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): Here’s a link to analysis of & commentary on the firing, from Illinois Family Institute:

  3. c matt says:

    If Dr. Howell really means what he said before that a student’s personal views do not influence the grade he gives (that is, the student can vehemently disagree with what the Church teaches, but will get an A if he correctly states what the Church in fact teaches), then he is a rare find indeed.

  4. Here’s some good commentary from Dr. Jeff Mirus (

  5. Very good background on the firing from the author of Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex (who was fired by the same director who laid off Howell):

    Of the two classes evaluated, one was on Vatican I and the Church’s response to Liberalism. The other was on the background leading up to the calling of the Second Vatican Council. While I think I was fair, I clearly laid these issues out from an interior Catholic perspective trying to explain the Catholic worldview and how this led to the events we were studying. A few days later, I was called in to Robert McKim’s office. He informed me that the “star chamber” had decided that I was not appropriate to teach within the Program. He said that he could not share with me their deliberations and that the decision was final. He did indicate to me that in general, the feeling was that I came across too much as though I believed what I was teaching. McKim is one (perhaps the only one in what is now a Department) who thinks that students should not know what the professor thinks about what he teaches, presuming that this is the only way to be “objective.”

    With my departure, this left finding a way to eliminate Ken Howell as the final step in a battle that had begun nearly 60 years prior, that is to eliminate people of faith from teaching subjects having to do with their faith. To be fair, there are others who practice their faith who teach about their faith. Conspicuously missing are those of the Judeo-Christian traditions.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Fascinating information and background at Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex Christopher. I had previously passed on to the local paper in Champaign-Urbana, the News-Gazette, that the author had information they could find useful. I do not know if they have done any follow-up.

  7. […] between the University of Illinois and the local Newman Center on campus.  On July 14, I reported here that the firing was under review by a faculty committee of the University of Illinois.  The […]

  8. […] 2.  Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee […]

  9. […] Howell at the University of Illinois.  I have posted on his firing and subsequent rehiring here, here, here and here.  Briefly, Dr. Howell taught a course on Catholicism at the University of Illinois […]

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