UI board: Salaita decision final

UI board: Salaita decision final

Let us know your take here.  Hear from UI board chairman Ed McMillan Friday at 9 on WDWS.

University of Illinois trustees dismissed a recent committee's recommendation that the university reconsider the hiring of controversial professor Steven Salaita.

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which conducts hearings when the university wants to dismiss a tenured professor and investigates any alleged violations of academic freedom or faculty governance, issued a report in late December that said the panel did not believe Salaita’s fiery tweets — or “political speech” — rendered him “unfit for office.”

The report’s authors wrote that Chancellor Phyllis Wise raised legitimate questions about Salaita’s “professional fitness,” and those questions should be addressed by having a panel of academic experts consider such claims.

Trustees rejected Salaita in an 8-1 vote in September.

“The board made its decision in September not to hire him into a tenured faculty position. That’s not going to change,” said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

“The decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures," read the board statement. "The decision did not present a “new approach” to the consideration of proposed faculty appointments. It represented the careful exercise of each board member’s fiduciary duty and a balancing of all the interests of the University of Illinois. In the end, this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated nor abdicated.”

UI president-elect Tim Killeen told The News-Gazette after today's board meeting he has been busy reading various reports, including the CAFT one, but deferred commenting on it, citing pending litigation.

Salaita sued the University of Illinois in November after being denied a request for public documents about the process that led to his not being hired. The UI recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. A hearing on the case will be held next month in Champaign.

Salaita also has threatened to sue the university on contractual and constitutional grounds.

Hardy said the university has voiced its willingness to come to a settlement of “mutually-agreeable financial terms” with Salaita, but he and his lawyers have been unresponsive, he said.

A former English professor at Virginia Tech, Salaita was offered a job in 2013 in American Indian Studies and was planning to join the Urbana faculty this fall. Over the summer, he blasted Israel and its supporters on Twitter, posting tweets such as, “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just (expletive) own it already,” and “If you’re defending #Israel right now, you’re an awful human being.”



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Rocky7 wrote on January 15, 2015 at 2:01 pm

The UofI BOT absolutely and positively did the right thing on this issue - again.

Good job, BOT!

sweet caroline wrote on January 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm


Fedupwithstatereps wrote on January 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I'm glad that's over.

uofistudent wrote on January 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Well, this AAUP censureship is going to be real great for the university. Thanks for demonstrating your inability to learn from your mistakes for us once again board! I actually had some hope that you would show maturity after the chancellor's last release. 

So much protesting to be done...

annabellissimo wrote on January 16, 2015 at 4:01 am

Why don't you protest something genuine and meaningful? Protest about war, insidious trade agreements, poverty, abuse and cruelty against America's children, poor schools, plutocracy and oligarchy here in America!  The UIUC Board deciding not to hire an anti-Semitic hate-monger? That's what you want to protest? You must have lost touch with the meaning of intellectual integrity and basic decency.

sweet caroline wrote on January 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm

How about instead of protesting, you U of I students consider going to class?  Supposedly that's why you're a student here.

byrdslover wrote on January 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Over?  You wish.  After you see how much of our tax money the U of I is going to have to pay in a settlement, then we'll see how you feel.

CZI wrote on January 15, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Not to mention how dreadfully the censuring will affect the university's reputation.   The Board had no business ignoring a committee authorized by the university's own statutes.  This is a clear case of overreach that says more about board members' egos than it does about concern for the reputation of the university or the principles on which it stands.

annabellissimo wrote on January 16, 2015 at 4:01 am

You wrote, "The Board has no business ignoring a committee..." which is ludicrous. Do you understand the role and responsibilities of the Board at all? Do you really delude yourself that they are toadies of the loudest, most bullying, most threatening group(s) on campus? One hopes that the Board will stay in close contact with their spines and with the values and principles of an academic institution that refuses to be a staging area for any terrorist agendas! If German academics of the 1920s and 30s had stood up to nascent fascism in their country, the world might be a different place today.

annabellissimo wrote on January 16, 2015 at 4:01 am

It’s very good that the Board made a public statement reiterating their previous decision and clarifying that it was not an ambivalent decision. That was the responsible thing to do; this will not be over, however, because too many people with their own agendas are busy making hay out of this whole fiasco. The Palestinian-American Salaita will continue to milk his martyrdom, to paraphrase a previous column by Mr. Dey, for all it’s worth because he has so zealously aligned himself with the Palestinians and with his Illinois victimhood that now that’s his primary identity. He will continue to malign the University of Illinois because the University thwarted his and his cohorts’ agendas to use the University to advance their anti-Semitic, virulent, inflammatory agendas, in the guise of “American Indian” studies. Illinois employee, Robert Warrior, promoted Salaita’s hiring in Warrior’s program at Illinois and as Salaita’s former advisor at the Oklahoma university where Warrior was and where Salaita was a doctoral candidate; Warrior is well familiar with Salaita’s views and by published comments, shares them.

By numerous earlier media reports about “the Salaita incident” at Illinois, both Salaita and Warrior are outspoken supporters of BDS, the “movement” to boycott (Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions) Israel to show support for the Palestinians. The BDS group’s positions are absolutely anathema to “academic freedom”; Mr. Salaita et al. demand it for themselves but want to deny it for other academicians about whom they express great hostility, Israeli Jews . What is disturbing most recently are the writings out of Israel about what BDS’ reactions to the Paris attacks have been. The University of Illinois does not need to employ Steven Salaita or any others who want to use their academic standing as a bullhorn to promote Palestinian agendas against Israel. This blog entry from Steven Salaita is particularly interesting as he strongly endorses BDS, comments on the risks to employment conditions for those who take views like his pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel views, and advocates that students be encouraged to “practice BDS” on campus. He writes: “Do not fear the Zionists. Yes, they have inordinate resources and influence. And, yes, their tactics can be vicious. But suppression is not a long-term strategy. It’s the tactic of one whose ideology has no merit beyond the force he can summon to impose it on those with less power….” (“Zionists” is Mr. Salaita’s and his cohort’s code word for Jews.) The name of the blog is “The Electronic Intifada”with the link being: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/steven-salaita/how-practice-bds-academe Here is a link to the Canadian Jewish News for a November 2014 article on BDS. http://www.cjnews.com/canada/academic-bds-growing-threat-campus-activist... One particularly vile headline from one of Salaita’s fellow-bloggers at The Electronic Intifada reads: " Israel moves quickly to exploit Paris attacks" ! Ah, yes, Israel moving to “exploit” attacks in which Jews were killed, in which a primarily Jewish kosher market was targeted, in France where everybody reports on the pervasive expansion of anti-Semitism and violent attacks against French Jews. Yes, I’m sure Israel is “exploiting” these horrors! Do Salaita and his crowd also think that Israel “exploits” the holocaust?! Sickening. The way to peaceful co-existence in the middle east will be not be found in violence and hatred and academe should not be promoting violence and hatred!

The University of Illinois Board is to be commended for its stance, although Salaita should never have been offered a job in the first place – and the fact that he was needs investigation and policy review! However, the fact that he will not be employed is a very good thing, indeed. French citizens were reminded of the precious value of free speech and liberty when a horrible attack on both occurred last week; American “academics” who have aligned themselves with BDS need to remind themselves, if they ever knew, what academic freedom means, what intellectual integrity means, what “scholar” means. Here is an entry from a Salaita entry to the Electronic Intifada blog, January 14, 2014, writing about support for BDS: “4. Zionists are terrified – and they should be” Excerpts from this section include: “We do know that Zionist forces from campus groups to the Israeli government have mobilized to prevent further momentum. Few people are more histrionic than a desperate Zionist. Of all the horrible things that befall people, none generates such hysteria as that of a political or economic elite threatened with a loss of power.”

Salaita’s writings are those of a single-minded anti-Semite. He spreads hatred and anti-Semitism. He will have plenty of time to do that now and he will be seen for what he is, without the imprimatur of academic standing or position or his pretense of scholarship. He will not be an employee of the University of Illinois. One continues to wonder why Virginia Tech hasn’t clambered to re-hire their tenured member, who was, by his supporters’ claims, such a valued member of that campus community and all. Unlike so many of the middle eastern groupings that Salaita apparently embraces in which “free speech” is not tolerated, here in the U.S. he can continue to travel the country spewing his bile all he wants because it’s still a comparatively free country. He just won’t be doing it as a professor from the University of Illinois and for that many of us are glad.

dlgreen50 wrote on January 16, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Short version: If you're not in favor of dead Palestinian children, you're an anti-Semite who wants to perpetrate another Nazi holocaust.

Rocky7 wrote on January 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Actually, here is the correct short version:


If one indulges in profanity-laced hate speech of any kind directed at ANY GROUP and don't understand the meaning of a letter of  offer CONTINGENT ON BOT APPROVAL,, you are unqualified to teach at any major research university including UIUC.


Unfortunately, the AAUP and certain 'respected scholar' haven't figured that out yet.

jlc wrote on January 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

It's the difference between theory and practice. In theory, someone isn't hired until the BoT approves them. In practice, faculty regularly worked and were paid for two to four months before getting official BoT approval. The courts might consider that fact, as well as the fact that the BoT had never refused approval in the eleventh hour like this before, demonstrations that BoT approval is such a rubber stamp as to be meaningless.

spangwurfelt wrote on January 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Q: What's the difference between David Green and the cartoonists of the Parisian satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo?

A: Nobody's dying for David Green's opinion on anything.

jlc wrote on January 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

“The decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures," read the board statement. "The decision did not present a “new approach” to the consideration of proposed faculty appointments."

Look, I get that the BoT has to justify their decision, but at least they could be honest about it. Of course their decision was made hastily. They'd been planning on hiring him for almost a year and changed their minds in the course of a week. Of course the decision was the result of external pressures. If not for this newspaper and others riling up alumni, and those alumni contacting the Chancellor and the Board, the appointment would have gone through. And of course it's a new approach to faculty appointments: they've never unhired someone at the last minute before. One of the most frustrating things about this whole situation has been the partial truths and untruths coming from the top of the administration, and this is no different.

CZI wrote on January 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

Thanks JLC for such a lucid statement of what's actually occurred.  Some of the people who read this newspaper seem to have the mistaken idea that the Board is in charge of faculty hiring.  The Board's decision in this case was unprecedented and shocking and it is the University of Illinois that has maligned itself (or rather its Board and its Chancellor that has maligned it) by taking such an extreme position.  

Rocky7 wrote on January 17, 2015 at 2:01 am

Salaita's letter of offer was written within the framework of contract law. Since when has contract law become "an extreme position"?

jlc wrote on January 17, 2015 at 9:01 am

As I noted above, there's a difference between theory and practice, or perhaps between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The law as *always* implemented before was that the Board's approval was a rubber stamp, so much so that many faculty worked for two to four months before getting that approval. Yes, the Board has always had the authority to subvert the faculty hiring process, but they've never done it before. That's the extreme part.

dlgreen50 wrote on January 17, 2015 at 11:01 am

Salaita is an incisive critic regarding Israel, it's self pity, and its depradations: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/scholarship-dismissal-university

Rocky7 wrote on January 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm

IF Salaita is an "incisive" thinker, then Plato, Socrates and Descartes must be fools.

spangwurfelt wrote on January 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Well, remember, in David Green's dictionary, "incisive" means "agrees with David Green." That's why he tends to link to his own writing so frequently, as he's done here: it's just too darned hard to find another soul anywhere on the planet other than David Green who actually agrees with David Green. It's something apparently most earthlings grow out of early, which is why he has to call his public access TV gig "news from Neptune."


Tom Napier wrote on January 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Now he's gone, now he's gone Lord he's gone, he's gone.

Like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track. He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back...He's gone.

Ooh, nothin's gonna bring him back.

JonaldRohnson wrote on January 19, 2015 at 9:01 am

In light of the Muslim jihadism out there, his communist jihad-sympathizing lying ways have no place in a real institution of learning. Palestinianism is a form of communism, tried and true. Islamism and Communism have no place anywhere except the dustbin of history.