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U. of Illinois Senate Will No Longer Discuss Honorary Degrees in Private

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Academic Senate will end its long-held practice of discussing the awarding of honorary degrees in closed sessions, after questions were raised about whether that tradition complied with the state’s Open Meetings Act, according to The News-Gazette, an Illinois newspaper.

The Senate, which comprises 200 faculty members, 50 students, and eight staff members, met last week in a closed session to discuss awarding an honorary degree to Shahid Khan, a billionaire Illinois alumnus who had been chosen to give the campus’s commencement address, in May. Campus leaders praised his entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts in announcing his selection.

But his company has been criticized for alleged anti-union activities and violating workplace-safety standards, according to the newspaper.

No vote was taken in the Senate’s closed session last week, its chairman told the newspaper, but its members did send back to a committee the recommendation that Mr. Khan receive an honorary doctorate.

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