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U Of I Provost Apologizes After GEO Strike

L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris apologized Monday after he said he received criticism of his actions during the recent strike by graduate student workers.

The apology came during a meeting of the Urbana campus Senate -- which is made up of faculty, students and some staff members -- and several days after the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) called off a nearly two-week long strike. Cangellaris said he was criticized by faculty and students over his handling of the negotiations.

"We heard many voices on this campus (during the strike), voices of confusion, anxiety, frustration, voices of suspicion, voices of disappointment, even rage," he said during the Senate meeting. "And I said things and I did things that were blamed as putting more oil in the fire that was amplifying those voices. And (I was) criticized for being unhelpful. I regret this deeply and I sincerely apologized for this."

In an interview following the meeting, Cangellaris declined to offer any details of the complaints stating that they were relayed to him via private messages. 

"There were complaints made about some of the things I said and did, which were considered unhelpful," he said. "And they were not meant to do that, and that's what I apologized about."

During his address to the Senate, Cangellaris added that the university was "founded on graduate education and research, and we must double down in our commitment to support it in the years ahead, no matter the headwinds or the challenges we encounter." He described graduate students as "indispensable partners" for the administration and faculty.  

The administration and the GEO reached a contract agreementlast week after nearly a year of bargaining. A spokesperson for the university, Robin Kaler, said the new GEO contract should be finalized later this week.

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