Report Critical Of University Officials' Dismissal Of Salaita

Dec 23, 2014

A committee investigating the University of Illinois’ handling of Steven Salaita -- a professor whose job offer with the university was withdrawn due to his social media posts -- issued a report today criticizing school officials. 

Steven Salaita held a press conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the summer.
Credit Jim Meadows, WILL
 Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois’ main campus, violated procedures when she failed to consult key academic officers before telling a controversial professor that he would not get the job he had been promised. That’s according to the report issued today by the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, a panel made up of U of I professors tasked with investigating the school’s unprecedented decision to not hire a professor who had already received and accepted a formal job offer.  The Board of Trustees voted not to hire Salaita because of his Twitter posts during last summer’s Israeli-Gaza conflict. Wise had called these tweets “hate speech.” While the new report is critical of university administration, it only makes recommendations and is non-binding. The report says the school should reconsider Salaita for the job.  No university official responded to requests for comment. UPDATE:

Here is Chancellor Wise's full statement:

I received the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure’s report this morning, and I thank them for their time and effort. I have read the report. It contains a great deal of information, and it is important that I thoroughly review it and discuss the findings and recommendations with the authors, the provost, deans and other campus leaders.    I strongly believe that shared governance, academic freedom and freedom of speech are foundational to the missions of all universities.  I know that my July massmail has been interpreted by some as creating a speech code policy. That was not my intent at all.  To the extent that it can be read as elevating civility above academic freedom, I want to make clear that I understand that my message was incorrect, and I apologize for that.  I look forward to further discussions on this topic with the faculty and to the clarity those conversations can provide to the campus community.  I sincerely regret that our campus has experienced negative impacts arising out of this matter and that the impact has been disproportionately felt by many of our faculty in the Arts, the Humanities and the Social Sciences. I want to make clear that we support the AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, as well as the updated statement released in 1970. It is our responsibility to foster a campus community where the most uncomfortable and contentious issues can be debated freely and openly. I look forward to continuing the conversations about how to fulfill that responsibility.  Finally, I want to make clear that since Prof. Salaita was not hired we have repeatedly reached out to Prof. Salaita’s attorneys to attempt to resolve this matter and to reimburse him for his reasonable losses. We are committed to continuing this process.