Controversial Dismissal Of Steven Salaita Will Not Be Reconsidered

Jan 15, 2015

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees announced today that its previous decision not to hire Steven Salaita was final and will not be reconsidered. 

Last summer, Salaita had been offered, and accepted, a tenured position at the U. of I., but the Board of Trustees refused to approve his hiring after learning that he had posted numerous tweets criticizing Israel during the conflict with Gaza. Some of these tweets used profanity, and U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise deemed some of them "hate speech."

The university's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure investigated the board's decision and the action of  issued a report last month finding that Wise had violated the principles of shared governance by failing to confer with academic officials. 

Here's the full text of the board's statement issued today:

Statement from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois has many responsibilities. Among the most significant is to review and take final action on proposed tenure for members of the faculty. The appointment of Stephen Salaita to a tenured faculty position on the Urbana faculty required the approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. On Sept. 11, 2014, consistent with the recommendations of the Urbana chancellor and the president, and after careful consideration and discussion, the Board voted 8-1 not to approve that appointment. That decision is final.

Recent media accounts about a report issued by the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure may have given the mistaken impression that the decision regarding Dr. Salaita might be reconsidered. It will not.

As Trustees of the University of Illinois we will always listen carefully and thoughtfully to recommendations of every voice in the University, including the fundamental touchstones of any institution of higher learning: the faculty, students and administration.

Here, the decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures. 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 of the interests of the University of Illinois. In the end, this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated nor abdicated.

We welcome and support the other efforts underway aimed at moving the campus forward.