Kilgore pleads his case to BOT

By Alex Davis |

Published 05/14 2014 05:59PM

Updated 05/15 2014 09:22AM

SPRINGFIELD -- The debate continues over whether a University of Illinois professor, who served time, should continue teaching. James Kilgore went before the Board of Trustees Wednesday, but his future is still up in the air. WCIA-3's Alex Davis hears Kilgore plead his case.

Kilgore says he should get to keep his job. He's making the case the board is violating academic freedoms by not reinstating him. He served time for murder and, after nearly three years of teaching at UI, his past is coming back to haunt him. His contract isn't being renewed.

"Education is a means for those with a criminal record to demonstrate the potential to move beyond a person's most destructive criminal act to show the world that we must not freeze people in history, but allow them space to move forward to transform."

So, Kilgore urged the BOT to reconsider and grant "academic freedom."

"Fifteen million people in the United States have felony victims, prompting debates about human rights and employment equity for those with a criminal background."

Saying his time behind bars should serve as redemption.

"Why is this important for specialized faculty? Because many people with felony convictions want to give back to their communities and one of the best ways to do this is to teach young people how to avoid a destructive path."

He says his experiences should be shared with young people, rather than scorned. University President Robert Easter welcomed Kilgore's comments.

"The board has a really good process for allowing individuals to speak on topics important to them and Dr. Kilgore was here today and had an opportunity to talk about adjuncts and his thoughts on academic freedom. This board particularly appreciates having information from all viewpoints and that was done today and that's good."

No action was taken during the meeting. Those who support the university's decision say he's not guaranteed a job and the board needs to be held accountable to taxpayers who support public institutions.

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