Ken Howell, fired for believing what he was teaching in his Catholicism class at University of Illinois, will be back this fall. The university is continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to his firing. But he’s still an adjunct professor. And the university has decided to change the terms under which he was hired.
University of Illinois had an arrangement under which the Newman Center hired and paid professors to teach courses in Catholic thought that were offered through the religious studies department. It was part of the evangelization mission of the Center. Back in the 1920s, the founder of this Newman Center made lots of Catholics (especially Jesuits) mad because he didn’t think there was a need for Catholic colleges and universities. He thought the state schools did things better. He thought if you had a Newman Center, that provided some Catholic courses, living arrangements, and dining rooms, Catholics could be encouraged to go to public colleges and universities.
The University of Illinois now says that arrangement cannot continue. They will have courses on Catholicism, but they will pay the instructor. And these courses must be taught to university standards. This means that Ken has a temporary reprieve. They will find a way to eliminate him. The Newman Center wants to persuade people of the truth of Catholic thought–the university wants to teach critically about religion. Big difference.
If the Newman Center is to continue offering courses for credit which are evangelizing in purpose, they’re going to have to have an arrangement whereby a Catholic college gives credit, and students transfer it to University of Illinois. That is, if the current director goes along with that ….