Dear Friends of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center,
Many of you have inquired of the upsetting news of the University of Illinois’ supposed dismissal of our Professor that we employed to teach Catholic courses on campus for University credit. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria felt that it would be irresponsible to react too quickly making a public statement without first giving the University of Illinois the chance to speak with us. It wasn’t until July 10 that we finally heard from the University, and the Diocese of Peoria will be speaking with the University early next week. St. John’s Catholic Newman Center (SJCNC) and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria firmly proclaim all the truths of the Catholic Faith! Dr. Ken Howell was primarily employed by SJCNC to teach Catholic courses on campus for University credit and we will seek to lobby for him to continue to do that and for the Catholic cause on campus. Please find attached the Diocesan Statement regarding this matter. Also, please pray for the success of the Diocese’s meeting with the University of Illinois.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Monsignor Gregory K. Ketcham
Director and Head Chaplain
St. John’s Catholic Newman Center
University of Illinois
Below is the 7/15 press release by the Diocese of Peoria.
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria
July 15, 2010
Patricia M. Gibson
“Diocese of Peoria to Meet with University of Illinois Officials Over
Termination of Catholic Professor”
For Immediate Release
PEORIA- The Diocese of Peoria has confirmed that they will be meeting with University
of Illinois officials to discuss the termination of Catholic Professor, Kenneth Howell, who
had taught courses in the Department of Religion. St. John’s Catholic Newman Center
at the University of Illinois employed Professor Howell to teach the Catholic courses at
the University under a previous arrangement with the University. Howell was informed
at the end of the spring semester that he would no longer be allowed to teach in the
Department of Religion.
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, Patricia M. Gibson, stated, “The Diocese has
been seeking contact with the University of Illinois since the time we were informed of
the decision to terminate Professor Howell. Only last week did the University contact
the Diocese to arrange a meeting. The University has given us every assurance that
they intend to continue to offer Catholic courses in the Department of Religion. They
have also indicated that they are open to a discussion concerning who will teach these
courses in the future.
“The Diocese has had direct contact with the President of the University of Illinois, who
has reiterated that academic freedom is at the core of their teaching and he is willing to
have a review of this action so that all the details related to this situation can be
“The Diocese of Peoria is committed to pursuing this matter and looks forward to
cooperation from the University of Illinois so that a just resolution can be obtained.”