Chicago State has agreed to pay $650,000 in damages and attorneys fees to professors Robert Bionaz and Phillip Beverly, concluding yet another costly litigation involving the Far South Side institution in recent years. The professors alleged that the university violated their free speech rights in repeatedly attempting to shut down their blog, CSU Faculty Voice, which they billed as “the faculty’s uncensored voice.”
Launched in 2009, the blog has criticized university administrators, particularly former President Wayne Watson. Faculty members who contributed posts lambasted a culture of cronyism and questioned ballooning administrative salaries and perks even as enrollment and graduation rates plummeted. Professors also criticized the university’s revolving door of leadership in the past three years: Four people have served as president or interim president since Watson retired in 2015.
After years of disputes, Bionaz and Beverly sued Chicago State in 2014 aiming to stop the school from interfering with the blog. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group, joined the suit in support of the professors.
Bionaz, who taught history, retired from Chicago State last year. Beverly is a political science professor.