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UIC To Ayers: No Emeritus For You

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Sep 24, 2010 2:45PM

william ayers
Chances are, no matter who you are, if you write a book and dedicate it to the man who assassinated a Kennedy, you won't be very popular. And if you're the controversial Bill Ayers, it'll cost you your emeritus honor. Ayers co-wrote the 1973 manifesto Prairie Fire which was in part dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot and killed Robert Kennedy in 1968. But RFK's son, Chris Kennedy, chairs the board at the University of Illinois-Chicago where Ayers was up for emeritus status. Not surprisingly, Kennedy took umbrage with the honor and moved to block it. Said Kennedy at a meeting yesterday:

"I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy. There is nothing more antithetical to the hopes for a university that is lively and yet civil, or to the hopes of our founding fathers for their great experiment of a self-governing people, than to permanently seal off debate with one's opponents by killing them."

Not a single trustee opposed Kennedy, all nine either abstaining or voting against giving Ayers the honor. Being blocked from the honor is a rarity, especially at UIC where, as CBS 2 explains, it's "purely honorific, and does not include perks granted by some other schools, such as office space, insurance benefits and free parking." Still, we can't say we're that surprised by the move given the circumstances and the lightning rod that Ayers has been even during a 20-year career at UIC. Ayers has not publicly commented on the decision.