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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Philadelphia Freedom

I used to be a rolling stone
You know if the cause was right
I'd leave to find the answer on the road
I used to be a heart beating for someone
But the times have changed
The less I say the more my work gets done.

Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom is the theme song at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Few people know how the arrangement between Dr. Ken Howell, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and the UIUC actually worked. The Chicago Tribune accurately explains the situation:

Kenneth Howell taught "Introduction to Catholicism" and "Modern Catholic Thought" in university classrooms, but served on the payroll of the St. John's Catholic Newman Center funded by the diocese of Peoria.

The church has maintained control over how Catholic theory was taught, selecting the instructors and paying their salaries. Although the university has amended the agreement over the years to exercise more control, the arrangement has left the Catholic component of the school's otherwise secular religious studies curriculum susceptible to church influence.
We wouldn't want the Catholic Church influencing how a course on Catholic Faith is taught!
That's nearly as bad as allowing a mathematical accrediting society to influence how math is taught, or the APA influencing how psychology is taught!

Those kinds of outside influences are obviously bad, as university professors explained:

Faculty and administrators now will review that policy to determine if it violates the separation of church and state or threatens academic integrity. They hope to conclude their investigation before the fall semester begins.

"I have very strong inclinations that this is where things went wrong in the first place," said Nicholas Burbules, a member of the Faculty Senate's General University Policy Committee, which will review the relationship, along with others. "This line is going to get blurred and was blurred repeatedly over a long period of time."
No doubt. Why, just the other day, some economics professor - accredited through an outside "professional" organization of some kind - was teaching his students that Barack Obama's policies were actually detrimental to the nation! And he was teaching it as FACT, not just one more opinion or position.

This is the problem with outside funding and outside influences. That's why NONE of the research labs at UIUC takes a DIME of funding from ANYONE except the administrators of UIUC.

Such outside funding would create undue influence.
The rules someone must stick to in order to be a member of a "professional" organization might create a breach of academic integrity.

No, it's best to just levy money from the taxpayer, and make sure that same taxpayer doesn't worry his pretty little head about how we academics spend the money that is properly ours, the money that would have been ours from the beginning, if that grubby little taxpayer hadn't laid his grubby little hands on it first.

The nerve. He'll be investigated next, of course, along with the economics prof, but for right now...
Scholars are troubled both by the university's agreement with the church and by what they consider a lack of due process in Howell's dismissal.

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said the circumstances of Howell's employment don't void his right to due process.

"Outside control is very dangerous," said Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois. "If the control is not clearly with the university, ordinarily that's something we just wouldn't tolerate."
Exactly. As Marx said, a man cannot serve two masters. At least, I'm pretty sure it was Marx. Whoever it was, he was certainly a faculty member at UIUC that said it, I know that. We don't allow anyone to think thoughts that aren't controlled by the university - that's something we just don't tolerate. The very fact that I attended UIUC and had that thought about two masters shows the thought originated at UIUC. QED.

And you grubby little meddlers all need to shut up, by the way.

I hear you muttering! "But the very term professor comes from the Catholic Church! It means one who professes the Catholic Faith, it was given to teachers at the original universities, the university systems invented by the Catholic Church in Europe, and the title indicated the person had promised to teach only that which was in accord with Catholic Faith."

That's all a pack of papist LIES!
We are university professors who DON'T believe, so belief isn't necessary anymore, hear?
Oh, and it never WAS necessary!
The idea that it was is a LIE.
The Catholic Church influences history instructors and then they teach these LIES.
All the more reason to recognize that:
"The university needs to have complete control over who teaches," Price said. "This agreement should not exist."
Yes. That's why the university completely ignores all outside organizations when it comes to deciding who teaches at a university. No accreditation will sway us, and we don't permit endowed chairs AT ALL. Too much outside control. No self-respecting university would allow that kind of influence on their curriculum.
Indeed, Ayesha Khan, legal director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said the arrangement is rife for pitfalls.

"You can imagine a person hired by the diocese (but) being put in a public institution having, at a minimum, a conflict of interest," Khan said. "That's an untenable situation and it's not surprising it led to this."
Obviously a reference to both endowed chairs in general and this particular endowed chair.
Burbules said the university committee recognizes the urgency of the situation and will respond quickly.

"I don't need to itemize the ways in which this can go wrong," he said. "We will be reporting fairly quickly on lessons we can learn from this situation — whether we should continue (such teaching arrangements) at all or whether they need to be managed or regulated more closely in the future."
Lay people don't understand how the priesthood of academia works.
Academic freedom is like Philadelphia Freedom.

When I'm a university professor, "The less I say the more my work gets done."


Matheus F. Ticiani said...

And don't forget the very enlightening definition of "adjunct professor" (from Wikipedia):

An adjunct professor is a part-time professor who does not hold a permanent position at that particular academic institution. This may be someone with a job outside the academic institution teaching courses in a specialized field, or it may refer to persons hired to teach courses on a contractual basis...

And also:

Hiring adjuncts was, a generation ago, done primarily to fill in courses that would add to an academic department's offerings; a paradigm might be an IBM computer scientist coming into a university to teach a single course on mainframe computing.

Even in theory "outside influence" on adjunct professors doesn't seem to be all that uncommon...:) I can't help being mesmerized by how the these factoids are milked.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Matheus, you are obviously one of those Catholic troublemakers. We have your number, even if you DO live in Brazil.

I used to work at the UIUC, as a network admin in the Office of the Dean of Students. A more politically correct bunch would be hard to imagine.

I very much doubt Ken Howell is getting his old job back, except via an order from a judge. These jokers are in love with sodomy, condoms and abortion. If there's any way to keep Howell off campus, they will find it, and it doesn't matter how many Facebook friends he has.

UIUC is a supercomputing center with somewhere above 20,000 students, and a science curriculum that is aces. Their religion department is not exactly their main draw. If they can kick Chief Illiniwek out (and they did), then Howell doesn't stand much of a chance.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

Whoa, Steve:). And I didn't even mention the saddest point about the issue for me.

Despite objections from scholars, the agreement with the church has remained in place at the Urbana- Champaign campus since the religious studies department was founded in 1971.

I noticed the "religious studies department", instead of "theology department. Here in the corner of the world I live, it's assumed that the main difference between the two realms of knowledge (the thing is called "religious sciences" here) is that the former, unlike the latter, will take a "secular" point of view, like a particular branch of sociology, or something like it. I even remembered seeing a bishop on a Catholic channel here saying that unlike religious sciences, studied on pretty much every secular university, theology is done "on one's knees".

Of course such fine distinction as desired by our secular brethren is by now useless, since both courses became heretic assembly lines.

Sheeeesh.....(again !)

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Oh, they would NEVER call religion a science here. In the US, the only thing that is permitted to be a science is experiment - what you can sense with the five senses.

Math is a formal science, but no one mentions it, and God forbid you say the same about theology!

c matt said...

I wonder if they don't renew the contract with teh Diocese, and UIUC brings in its own yahoo to teach Catholic theology which does not comport with true Catholic teaching, if the diocese could bring some form of slander claim against UIUC?

Frankly, I would prefer if secular universities would just stay out of religious studies altogether.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

If the diocese fired Howell when the university slandered him, what are the odds that the diocese is going to go up against UIUC for slandering the Catholic Faith?

The reason universities teach religion is precisely so they can make fun of it. Why do you think the UIUC religion department was established in 1971? That wasn't exactly the high-water mark of academic-theological relations.

It's just a sign of UIUC faculty incompetence that it's taken them 40 years to finally close the deal and make religious parody a staple of every aspect of their religion courses.