The O’Reilly Factor recently went visiting Dr. Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of the University of Syracuse, and former Chancellor of the University of Illinois. At issue is whether business professor Dr. Boyce Watkins, and his comments regarding NPR’s editor Juan Willams, who in public, supported Bill O’Reilly in an earlier controversy, were appropriate coming from the forum of Syracuse University.

O’Reilly’s contention? That such comments, if made by a white professor, would have resulted in, at a minimum, a mandatory appearance before a professional review board for appropriate academic behavoir and academic standards of integrity, and more likely dismissal from the faculty. Clearly, O’Reilly argues, Dr. Watkins is pursuing a race based agenda under the guise of academic freedom.

For those of us in Champaign, the home of the University of Illinois, this is not a surprise. It is a well known tenet that organizations are informed by the attitudes of the senior leadership. Nancy Cantor’s attitudes are well known here, and frankly it was Syracuse’s loss and our gain when she moved on. People are still trying to patch up the disaster that was her administration.

It was, of course, the Cantor administration which supported the demise of the “Chief” and legitimized the small minority voice who found racism in the University’s athletic symbol. Moreover, Cantor’s attitude became evident when a group of protestors invaded the Swanland Administration Building and prevented employees from accessing the building. Rather than promote the security and safety of the staff, Cantor legitimized the group by decending from her office and sitting down with the protestors for discussions of racism, while employees, unable to get to their work place, or trapped inside, were forced to wait.

The issue gave the NCAA, always on the look-out for ways to punish the University of Illinois, a means to sanction Illinois for “hostile and abusive” practices, even though the Florida Seminoles got a free ride. The University, however, will carry on, without its halftime dance and mascot; and thankfully without Nancy Cantor.

Still, watching Dr. Cantor, trotting and attempting to duck The Factor’s representative’s questions was a highlight of Memorial Day.

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