U of I Fires Tenured Professor
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees met in Springfield on Thursday.
One of the items on their agenda was to fire Louis Wozniak, a graduate of the Urbana-Champaign campus and a member of the faculty there since 1967.
"The Board of Trustees has an obligation to the parents of the students, and the students themselves--a fiduciary obligation," said University President Robert Easter. "In this case they felt that obligation was best served by terminating this individual's employment."
That decision terminated the teaching career of tenured professor Louis Wozniak--the first time the university has done that.
"It's not the first time the university has moved to dismiss a faculty member, or a faculty member with tenure," said Thomas Hardy from the Office of University Relations. "Typically, that resolves itself somewhere along the way. They opt to resign, retire, or reach an accommodation of some sort."
Wozniak did not take any of those ways out. He fought the allegations, which included intimidating students, publishing personal information about students online, and attempting to interfere with students' grades, all over an award he believed he should have received from a campus honor society.
We attempted to reach Wozniak for an interview but could not. We do have a clip from one of his YouTube videos recorded during this process.
"You understand this is academic freedom and tenure. They are applying a muzzling order," said Wozniak. "I will not have a muzzling order applied to me. I will be conscientious and careful about what I say, and I believe I have been throughout this, but someone has to speak out. You cannot let administration get by with whatever they want to do, which is exactly what they're trying to do."
A report to the board said Wozniak never apologized or agreed to make changes that were asked of him.
The professor was relieved of his teaching duties in 2010, and it took more than two years to actually take his job and his paycheck away.
"That indicates the very serious nature of this kind of action," said Easter. "To the extent that the institution invested serious time on the part of faculty as well as administrative officials in coming to these decisions."
While Wozniak was suspended for more than two years, he still received his salary of around $85,000 per year.
That will end with the termination, but Easter said he does not believe that will affect Wozniak's pension, making the termination very similar to a forced retirement.
Reporting in Springfield, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.