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U of I trustees dismiss engineering professor

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 2:23 p.m. CDT
Caption
(John Dixon)
In this Sept. 12, 2013 photo, University of Illinois engineering Professor Lou Wozniak stands outside the office of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering in Urbana. The university's Board of Trustees is meeting in Springfield Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, and is scheduled to take up the decision of revoking the tenure of Wozniak for a list of charges. Wozniak has taught at the Champaign-Urbana campus for half a century. (AP Photo/MBR, John Dixon)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois Board of Trustees dismissed an engineering professor Thursday who had a 50-year career at the state's flagship school, an action that administrators say is unprecedented in the institution's history.

Louis Wozniak had his tenure revoked after he was charged with offenses including harassing a student, improperly obtaining and publishing grades and sending an email to students that included a sexual reference. Wozniak was suspended with pay from his $85,000-a-year job in 2010 after the email, which he apologized for the day after he sent it.

His problems began when he started investigating why he had not won a student-bestowed teaching award in 2009, even though he had received the most votes.

"As a reaction to not receiving a minor teaching award, Professor Wozniak engaged in repeated misconduct which badly damaged the university's paramount mission of trust and support for its students," said an administration report to the board released Thursday.

A faculty review committee had found Wozniak was in error in just one area and said his three-year suspension was penalty enough.

But the report from President Robert Easter to the board pointed out that the faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure had said if Wozniak did not comply with its recommendations — basically, that he should move on from personal disappointment and focus on students — that it would be cause for dismissal. Officials claimed they found more than 100 instances of Wozniak disseminating confidential information about students involved with the award.

Wozniak will receive a pension, and U of I spokesman Thomas Hardy said the school would work on a "transition" with Wozniak. He was still in his office Thursday afternoon.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm more than delighted to have had the opportunity and honor to work with such bright students and form lifelong relationships," said Wozniak, who had posed his fight as a battle against an authoritarian administration that conspired to deny him the award and was trying to get rid of him.

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Online:

Wozniak's compilation of case papers: http://www.illethics.com

Board of Trustees: http://www.bot.uillinois.edu

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Contact John O'Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor .

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