Statement at Northeastern Illinois University Board of Trustees Meeting Re: John Boyle Case

This was my statement before the NEIU board. There were also three NEIU faculty members, including Professor John Boyle, and two students who spoke on his behalf. He was denied tenure despite receiving unanimous recommendations from the Department of Linguistics, the department chair, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Northeastern Illinois University Personnel Committee. The board’s policy is not to respond but to listen to comments during the “Public Comment” component of the agenda at the end of the meeting.

Remarks Prepared for Northeastern Illinois University Board of Trustees Meeting, February 21, 2013

I am professor of history at St Xavier University and Vice President of the American Association of University Professors in ILL and chair of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. AAUP has established guidelines concerning tenure and virtually every post-secondary institution acknowledges AAUP principles.

AAUP Ill in its report to President Sharon Hahs on July 13, 2012 concluded that Assistant Professor of Linguistics John Boyle’s denial of tenure was arbitrary and at odds with broadly recognized AAUP standards. His teaching was evaluated as superior and his scholarship and service met the criteria for tenure. His PhD from the University of Chicago and subsequent performance demonstrates academic excellence as a NEIU faculty member.

Apparently there was a disagreement over advising students and a missed deadline in filing an advising-instruction report. This must not lead to a denial of tenure. President Hahs graciously responded on July 19 to our report and stated “much of the information…is accurate.” Yet she claimed it was “selective” but declined to reveal the reason behind her opposition to granting tenure. Institutions that support shared governance and academic adhere only to tenure decision paper trail as generated by units. That only constitutes the facts, nothing else.

Professor Boyle is the only professor I know who was unanimously recommended for tenure by a department, department chair, school dean, and University Personnel Committee and was denied tenure. We ask that you consider our report’s comprehensive examination of this case. We urge in the name of justice, due process, academic freedom and respect for shared governance, that this board reconsider the tenure decision in the case of John Boyle. I am confident a reconsideration would be a dramatic step in repairing both the public perception of repression, arbitrariness and lack of respect for academic freedom at NEIU and on-campus divisions that have emerged in recent years.

You have the power, you have the authority to make this right and reconsider this case. Thank you for the honour of appearing here today and speaking to you this afternoon.

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