Academic Senate approves proposal on hiring policies, background checks

By Maggie Sullivan

Efforts to create better guidelines for University hiring processes began in the fall and came to fruition at the Academic Senate meeting Monday.

Katherine Galvin, associate provost of administrative affairs, presented the Provost Communication number 3, which has been a yearlong effort. The 17-page document lays out the University’s new search and hiring processes. It lists policies for the hiring of 13 University positions, including executive officer appointments and tenure and non-tenure appointments.

It also lists policies for appointments requiring prior approval by the provost, appointments that don’t require prior approval by the provost, and two-level review requirements.

“This document creates an explicit process for discussing any employment questions that might arise prior to employment,” Galvin said.

Galvin assured senators that the faculty and college will oversee any concerns that may arise with a potential University hire. The new policy comes after the University faced criticism for hiring James Kilgore, a convicted felon, and Steven Salaita, whose offer of employment was rescinded after he sent controversial tweets about the conflict in Gaza.

“If any concerns are raised, they will involve everyone,” Galvin said.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise said the weight of potential budget cuts is still an ongoing concern. The University could lose 31.5 percent of its state funding under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Wise reiterated the budget is not finalized, and she anticipates many conversations with Provost Ilesanmi Adesida in the coming months.

Jay Rosenstein, professor in Media, said he was concerned about the University hiring Edelman to improve its image because it might not have sufficient funds if Rauner’s proposed budget cuts are approved.

“We already have a large public relations staff,” Rosenstein said. “If every time you talk with someone they don’t know what Illinois has done, I don’t know if the solution is hiring more external staff.”

Wise said Edelman will look into what the University’s public relations team is already doing and determine whether it is optimally organized. She said Edelman will not be paid through tuition dollars or general revenue funds.

“This is an effort that will be very conclusive and consultative,” Wise said.

Chair Roy Campbell bid farewell to the Academic Senate Monday. Gay Miller, chair of educational policy, will take his place as Senate Executive Committee Chair in the fall.

“I have very, very much welcomed the attitude of this senate,” Campbell said. “Albeit we’ve had a lot of problems this year, but we’ve faced them, and come up with a solution that is respectable and upholds our values.”

Chancellor Phyllis Wise proposed a resolution thanking Campbell for his efforts as Senate Executive Committee Chair, which passed unanimously. She also thanked the senate for a year of hard work.

“It’s been a joy and a challenge in many, many ways,” Wise said. “We’ve grown up together.”

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