Spring 2015 marks Kilgore's return to UI faculty

By Abigale Svoboda

James Kilgore returned to the University for the spring 2015 semester after he was unable to teach for a semester due to his criminal past.

Kilgore’s criminal record was not a public issue until articles detailing his past were published in The News-Gazette. Following the public’s reaction, Kilgore was told his contract with the University, which expired Aug. 15, 2014, would not be extended.ss

He served six years in prison for his involvement in a 1975 bank robbery and was also a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, known for kidnapping Hearst Media Company heiress, Patty Hearst.ss

University and community members, as well as parents and alumni throughout the country, quickly raised concerns about having a former convicted felon employed at the University.

Provost Ilesanmi Adesida appointed a committee in April 2014 to review Kilgore’s status, which ruled no policies were violated in his hiring. According to Kilgore, the University was fully aware of his past when he was hired; however, the Board of Trustees officially approved new background check policies at its May 7 meeting.

Provost Communication #3 has been updated to contain guidelines on faculty search and hiring policies at the University. It lists policies for the hiring of 13 University positions, including executive officer appointments and tenure and non-tenure appointments.ss

The update includes policies for appointments requiring prior approval by the provost, appointments that don’t require prior approval by the provost, and two-level review requirements, as well.

“This document creates an explicit process for discussing any employment questions that might arise prior to employment,” said Katherine Galvin, associate provost of administrative affairs, at the May 4 Academic Senate meeting.

Before the new policies were in place, at its November meeting, the Board voted to allow Kilgore to be hired at the University again. He was later hired as an adjunct lecturer by the global studies program to teach an eight-week class titled, “Sweat Shops or Flat World Opportunities? Exploring the New World of Work.”

Kilgore had several supporters at the University who urged the Board to allow Kilgore into the classroom again.

“Dr. Kilgore is an excellent scholar, a committed and engaging teacher (judging from student feedback), and a colleague who gives of his time generously to the University and its diverse programs,” said D. Fairchild Ruggles, professor in landscape architecture, in a previous interview with The Daily Illini.

Kilgore was hired despite donor Richard Hill’s threat to revoke $4.5 million of his $6.5 million pledge to the bioengineering department at the University of Illinois Chicago campus. Hill, a UIC alumnus, wrote in a letter to University officials stating he no longer wanted to be associated with the University if Kilgore was officially rehired.ss

“I think it’s a good step for the University that they have at least recognized that people who were formerly incarcerated, like myself, can change their lives,” Kilgore said in a previous interview with The Daily Illini. “They can transform, and can make useful contributions to educational institutions.”

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