U. of Illinois Revokes Professor's Tenure

November 15, 2013

In a rare move, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Thursday revoked the tenure of a longtime faculty member. Louis Wozniak, associate professor of industrial enterprise and systems engineering, was removed from teaching in 2010, after he sent an email to students that said he only remembered the names of those students with whom he had had sex. Wozniak said it was clearly a joke, but some found it offensive, and the university launched an investigation into his behavior going back to a prior complaint that he was passed up for a $500 teaching award, the Chicago Tribune reported. A faculty committee cleared Wozniak of most of the charges against him, but the University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted unanimously to revoke his tenure and terminate his employment immediately under university statutes, after finding “clear and convincing” evidence that he “can no longer be relied on to perform his university duties and functions in a manner consonant with professional standards of competence and responsibility.”

In its decision, the board said it did not treat the case lightly, given the gravity of tenure, but added: “There is nothing more fundamental to the mission of a university than to protect its relationships with its students. This includes ensuring that student confidences are maintained and that information is not published about them without the consent required by University policies. Every student of this University deserves nothing less than our complete and unwavering support of these policies.  Prof. Wozniak has refused to meet this most basic understanding."

Wozniak, who joined the faculty in 1966, did not immediately return a request for comment. Greg Scholtz, director of tenure, governance and academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, said the association was keeping a file on Wozniak's case and would be concerned if the procedures Illinois followed to arrive at Thursday's decision violated AAUP guidelines. It does not appear that any such violations occurred, he added.

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