Tribune reporter, Manya A. Brachear, "U. of I. reinstates Catholic instructor" (Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2010) writes:
An adjunct religion instructor barred from teaching by the University of Illinois after defending the Roman Catholic stance on homosexuality has been invited back to teach this fall.
Adjunct associate professor Kenneth Howell was reinstated on Thursday — a day after the deadline when his lawyers said they would sue the university for violating his academic freedom if administrators failed to reinstate him.
University officials also announced they would sign Howell's paychecks, ending an unconventional decades-long practice by which the church compensated whoever taught Catholic studies at the state university.
Jordan Lorence, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal consortium representing Howell, commended university officials for reconsidering their actions and reinstating the associate professor.
"The university has righted the wrong by letting Ken Howell back into the classroom," Lorence said. "They should never have removed him in the first place."
Howell, who has taught on the Urbana - Champaign campus since 2001, was removed last month after explaining during class why the church believes that homosexual behavior violates natural moral law. He elaborated later in an e-mail that lawyers say circulated around campus, prompting one student to call it "hate speech."
His subsequent removal generated outcry from alumni and students, including a "Save Dr. Ken" Facebook page. On Thursday, the page was filled with posts celebrating victory.
But the reinstatement is temporary. It does not affect an ongoing faculty review, which has been investigating whether Howell's immediate removal violated his academic freedom or right to due process.
Another faculty committee appointed to examine the circumstances of Howell's compensation concluded that the university's relationship with St. John's Catholic Newman Center, the Catholic ministry on campus, was improper.
Though Howell taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought in university classrooms, he served on the payroll of the Newman Center funded by the Diocese of Peoria — an agreement that remained in place despite scholars' objections when a religious studies program was established in 1971.
Howell now will earn $10,000 from the university for teaching Introduction to Catholicism in the religious studies department this fall.