University of Illinois to Begin Following Background Check Policy for New Hires Starting in October

By Michael Klazema on 9/14/2015
Last May, the University of Illinois informed the public that it was in the process of revamping its background check policies for new hires. At the time, the university was only running criminal background screenings on employees who would be working closely with children, finances, healthcare patients, or firearms. Now, after more than a year of working on a new policy, U of I will finally implement background checks for the vast majority of new hires starting in October of this year.

When the Board of Trustees started talking about a new background check policy in May 2014, the clear plan was to implement criminal background checks for all new hires, regardless of position, job responsibility, or pay level. The policy that is going into effect in October mostly adheres to that original goal. According to the State Journal-Register, all prospective professors and other faculty members will be required to submit to background checks, as will other academic professionals and civil service applicants. The background check policy won't apply to all hires, though, as student workers and volunteers will be exempt.

Many have theorized that U of I's decision to develop a new background check policy is connected with a media uproar that occurred in connection to one of their professors last year. Newspapers throughout Illinois seized upon the story of an adjunct professor who had received a felony conviction and served prison time for a 1975 bank robbery. The professor in question also had ties to the Symbionese Liberation Army, a revolutionary group notorious for kidnappings, murders, bank robbery, and other offenses.

In that case, though, the university already knew about the professor's murky history, because he had disclosed it to them already. They decided to hire him regardless, not only because of his considerable accomplishments in the academic world, but also because he had already served his time for the crimes he had committed earlier in his life. Still, the media attacked the university's hiring decision and wondered if the announcement that U of I was pursuing a new background check policy had anything to do with it. It didn't, the school has been in the process of developing this new policy for more than two years now.

In fact, the university has made it clear that they are still willing to give ex-offenders and convicted felons second chances, if they are merited and don't put students or other employees at risk. According to as Associated Press report, one trustee stated that the goal is to make sure "our campuses are safe, not deny second chances to people who have served their time." That distinction is a wise one for U of I to make. Since the school has a clear history of not discriminating against people with dark pasts, it's fair to say that this new policy won't change that.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.