- Chicago businessman Richard Hill is threatening to pull back $4.5 million he had pledged to the University of Illinois if the school rehires a James Kilgore, an adjunct who is a former member of a 1970s terrorist group.
- Two academic programs at the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus have started the process of rehiring Kilgore, who was a researcher and lecturer at the school from 2010 to this year, when his employment was not renewed because of board members' concerns about his past.
- Hill has said that he no longer wants to be associated with the university, following a board decision allowing Kilgore to be rehired, but he also said his money will be available if the university “does the right thing,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
This sets up an interesting dilemma for the university: How much is a part-time professor — or academic independence from major donors — worth? Kilgore, who was a member of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army, served about five years in prison for his role in a 1970s murder and has said he has changed since he was a member of the group. In November, the University of Illinois’ board of trustees reversed its decision against Kilgore, following pressure from faculty members to reinstate him. The Center for African Studies and the Global Studies program want to hire Kilgore for the semester that begins next month. Hill, the donor, has so far given $2 million of $6.5 million he pledged to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s bioengineering department, which has been named after him and is the first named department at the Chicago school.