Wozniak v. Adesida

From April 2009 to August 2019
University of Illinois (Public college or university)
Urbana, IL, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Louis Wozniak

    Louis Wozniak was a tenured faculty member at University of Illinois’s College of Engineering.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    University investigation issuing in sanctions
    Faculty sanctioned
  • Incident Status:
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Louis Wozniak was a tenured faculty member at University of Illinois’s College of Engineering. Two student honor societies at the College jointly give an annual teaching award. In spring 2009, Wozniak did not receive the award. Wozniak thought this decision was erroneous and set out to investigate. He called the head of one honor society to his office, aggressively interrogated her, and repeated the process with a University employee. He also posted on his website information about the student heads of the honor societies. The College’s Dean then started tenure revocation proceedings.

After he was put under investigation for his conduct by the University’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, he posted the entire Committee report, and all evidence the Committee received, on his website, revealing the identities of the students involved and the distress they felt at Wozniak’s conduct. He also included a link to this material in the signature block of every email he sent from his University account. Finally, he filed a civil suit against the student heads of the honor societies in order to get a judicial order requiring the students to sit for depositions. For these offenses, Board of Trustees terminated Wozniak’s tenure contract.

On November 13, 2015, Wozniak filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois alleging § 1983 violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling on August 6, 2019.