Faculty May Step to Ayers' Defense After Board Denied Honorary Status

Faculty at the University of Illinois reportedly are considering whether to step to the defense of 1960's radical William Ayers after the board of trustees decided two weeks ago to deny him emeritus status.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that some members of the faculty may ask the board to reconsider. They've expressed concern that the decision ended up being personal -- Chairman Christopher Kennedy opposed granting the status for Ayers, noting that he dedicated a book to the man who killed his father, Robert F. Kennedy.

Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground. He also once worked on a Chicago charity board with now-President Obama, a detail that caused trouble for Obama during his campaign. According to the Tribune, one retired professor drafted a resolution suggesting the Faculty Senate appeal to the board.

"The chair had a conflict of interest and he put the other trustees in an impossible position," retired professor Elliott Kaufman told the newspaper. "He drew a dotted line between the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and giving Bill Ayers emeritus status. The result is what we got, and I just don't think it was a fair way to do it."

The Senate committee plans to take up the matter next week.