More Procedural Violations in Salaita Case (Updated)

In addition to possibly violating Articles 1 and 9 of the University of Illinois Statutes (see update), Chancellor Wise may have violated Article 3 as well.

The Chancellor informed Prof. Steven Salaita on August 1, 2014, that she would not forward his case to the Board of Trustees. The University Statutes (Article III, Section 3) spell out how to handle such cases:  “In case a recommendation from a college is not approved by the chancellor/vice president, the dean may present the recommendation to the president, and, if not approved by the president, the dean with the consent of the Board of Trustees may present the recommendation in person before the Board of Trustees in session.”

A Dean cannot exercise this statutory option if the Chancellor keeps him in the dark and instead announces her decision directly to the candidate. Which is exactly what the Chancellor did in this case. Brian Ross, the Interim Dean of LAS, learned of the Chancellor’s actions only three days later, on August 4. Who knows when the Chancellor might have seen fit to inform him – he found out only because Robert Warrior (Director of the American Indian Studies Program) wrote to the Dean to inquire what was going on. See the correspondence on pages 361-362 of the publicly available documents.

Four members of the Board of Trustees are lawyers by training, and one of them, Patrick Fitzgerald, is the famed federal prosecutor who brought down former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby. Even if the trustees don’t care about these procedural irregularities on the merits, surely the irregularities should make the trustees nervous should this case go to court.

Perhaps that’s worth mentioning to them when you send your emails.

In the past month or so, this blog has attracted, on average, six thousand visitors per day (in addition to its more than 4700 subscribers)—and 20,000 visitors on our highest day of traffic. If just ten percent of those readers sends an email…

Here again are the addresses:

Christopher G. Kennedy, Chair, University of Illinois Board of Trustees:

Robert A. Easter, President:

Hannah Cave, Trustee: [the one we had doesn’t work]

Ricardo Estrada, Trustee:

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Trustee:

Lucas N. Frye, Trustee:

Karen Hasara, Trustee:

Patricia Brown Holmes, Trustee:

Timothy N. Koritz, Trustee:

Danielle M. Leibowitz, Trustee:

Edward L. McMillan, Trustee: or

James D. Montgomery, Trustee:

Pamela B. Strobel, Trustee:

Thomas R. Bearrows, University Counsel:

Susan M. Kies, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University:

Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Trustees:

Update (10 pm)

That information about a possible violation of Article 3 comes the Campus Faculty Association at the University of Illinois, which is trying to organize a union for the faculty there, as we have at CUNY. I know a lot of faculty, including some who’ve been very outspoken in support of Salaita and academic freedom, have misgivings about unions in the academy. I hope this entire controversy has made clear to the skeptics that preventing these sorts of arbitrary power grabs by the Chancellor and/or the Trustees is one of the reasons we have unions and why we need more of them.



  1. Carrie September 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm | #

    The correct email address for Hannah Cave is:

  2. Lynne September 7, 2014 at 10:18 am | #

    I see that 400 UI faculty have signed a petition in support of Wise. I find this hard to understand, but the university seems to being torn apart over this.

    • UIUC Faculty Member September 7, 2014 at 11:05 am | #

      Lynne and others: please see our open letter from faculty who are strongly critical of the chancellor, president and board of trustees:

      Also note that the disturbing letter in support of the chancellor includes some who are not faculty. It does not represent any kind of consensus, believe me.

    • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant September 8, 2014 at 11:14 am | #

      I read the petition supporting Wise. Three times. It is worth noting how profoundly non-specific, bland, general that “petition” (to do what, exactly?) happens to be. Anyone can sign it — and elsewhere still demand that Ms. Wise (and the BoT) reconsider. Indeed, such an act would do proud to anyone who supports her chancellorship.

      But let us be clear. Steven Salaita’s name is not written anywhere in the body of the petition, nor — as well — is any reference of any sort to the unfolding disaster at UIUC. One may as well be supporting her in her decision to replace the ice cream in the commissary with organic tofutti. There is a reason for that: no faculty staff is going to openly support the effective censorship of another (potential) faculty member. What faculty scholar is going to lend her name to a petition that explicity says, “we disagree with what he says so we don’t want him to teach here and therefore we are in support of academic censorship and politically motivated hiring and firing.”? The public-relations flavored, weasel-worded blandness of the “petition” is a dead giveaway. One can claim to support Wise without being trapped into (explicitly) supporting the chilling of academic inquiry.

      Another thing about the text of that petition: Talk about damning your chancellor with faint praise. What Mad-Ave reject wrote that hoo-hah?

      Here is a second reason: CYA. If what happened to Salaita is any indication, I would offer it as a reasonable suspicion that the UI faculty listed thereon just do not want to be fired next and that this “petition” is serving as their “inoculation”-and-“loyalty oath”. That is, until they can get their resumes together and seek work elsewhere before UI really becomes radioactive….

      Just sayin’…

      • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant September 8, 2014 at 11:46 am | #

        And one more thing — the “petition” to support Wise (in her unmentioned hire-firing of Salaita) can be used again, against one of the faculty signatories in the future. Or, more bluntly, it can be turned against its signatories by the usual victims of such acts. UIUC eating its own?

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