UIC debates 'emeritus' title for Ayers

Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:35 AM

CHICAGO, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Former Weather Underground leader William Ayers is again at the center of debate, this time at his Chicago university.

The University of Illinois at Chicago board of trustees last week denied Ayers, who has just retired, the largely honorific title of emeritus, the Chicago Tribune reported. Now faculty leaders may ask the board to rethink the highly unusual move.

The board's chairman is Christopher Kennedy, a son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. In 1974, a book co-authored by Ayers, "Prairie Fire," was dedicated to a list of "political prisoners," including Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Kennedy in 1968.

Christopher Kennedy cited that fact to deny Ayers the emeritus title, and the board went along unanimously.

"The chair had a conflict of interest and he put the other trustees in an impossible position," Professor Elliott Kaufman said in an interview with the Tribune.

The UIC Senate Executive Committee will take up the issue next week.

Ayers and Kennedy had not responded to requests for comment.

Ayers' association with Barack Obama became an issue during Obama's 2008 run for the presidency.

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