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UIUC Student Petition to Restore James Kilgore's Employment Status at Our University

This petition had 408 supporters

James Kilgore is a respected researcher, writer, educator and criminal justice activist.  He has been open about having felony convictions resulting from political activities in the 1970s and about having served time in prison. For the past three years he has worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a temporary faculty member, teaching classes in Global Studies, Urban Planning and the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Student evaluations of his work have been overwhelmingly positive, landing him on the University’s Excellent Teacher list in 2013. Each of his supervisors has given him glowing performance reviews and they had plans to employ him in the 2014-15 academic year.

In February of this year, a local newspaper, the News-Gazette, published a long attack piece about James Kilgore, sensationally highlighting his criminal background, political activities of the 1970s and questioning the University of Illinois for hiring a person with such a history. On April 9, the University Provost in a private meeting informed James Kilgore that the university would not approve any future contracts to employ him and declined to give him any explanation whatsoever as to why, how and by whom this decision had been made. 

We the undersigned scholars and concerned individuals believe that the University of Illinois has apparently given in to political pressure and refused to approve future employment contracts for James Kilgore solely on the basis of his background and sensationalist media coverage, rather than on his job performance. This decision represents a blow to inclusiveness, diversity and employment equity.  Moreover, actions like the University of Illinois’s in this instance are a threat to academic freedom as they open the door to further campaigns from groups with a political agenda to undermine the independence and integrity of our most important universities.

We, as students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ask that the University of Illinois restore James Kilgore’s employment status at the University.

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