Private institutions no longer to employ UI religious studies instructors

The University will fund all instructors in the religious studies department in a standard manner after the firing and reinstatement of Catholic studies professor Kenneth Howell.

All religious studies instructors will now be employed by the University and not by any private institutions. The change was made earlier this summer in light of Howell’s situation.

Monsignor Gregory Ketcham, director of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, said Howell was employed by the center to teach courses on Catholicism on campus and was employed as an adjunct professor in the religious studies department.

“That relationship had been present on campus for many, many years,” he said.

Adjunct professors are considered to have zero-time appointment with the University, meaning they do not have a time obligation to teach since they have a job other than teaching to which they devote most of their time.

“It is a way for someone who already has a connection with the University to be able to help in other ways,” said Robin Kaler, University spokeswoman. “That’s what was used before the decision to change it.”

Catholic studies professors and staff taught at the University for credit, but were employed by the Newman Center. Instructors that were hired by the Newman Center received their salaries through the Peoria Diocese, but they will now receive them through the University alone.

Kaler said normalizing those funds would comply with campus practices and policies.

In a press release by the Peoria Diocese, Chancellor Patricia Gibson said the University “asked that they be allowed the freedom to pay Dr. Howell’s salary for instructing these courses.”

“The University of Illinois has indicated that they value a relationship with the Newman Center and plan to continue to offer these courses in Catholic studies,” she said.

Although other employees in the religious studies department have different funding arrangements with the University, the decision to standardize employment will affect all sectors.

Kaler said the change in funding and employment within religious studies at the University as a whole is permanent.