Professors’ association: U. of Illinois violated prof’s rights in withdrawing offer


(JTA) — The University of Illinois violated the principles of academic freedom and tenure in rescinding the appointment of Steven Salaita over anti-Semitic tweets, a professors’ association found.

The American Association of University Professors released a report this week with its findings. It will vote next month on whether to censure the university at its annual meeting, the Daily Illini student newspaper reported.

The university’s trustees voted in September to reject the faculty recommendation that Salaita be appointed to a tenured position with the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The vote followed the recommendation of the university’s president and chancellor, who had announced previously that they would not submit Salaita’s appointment to the board before changing course and asking for a vote to reject.

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the board’s action in rejecting a faculty appointment was rare and possibly unprecedented.

The university had announced over the summer that Salaita would be joining the faculty. Chancellor Phyllis Wise revoked the appointment after being made aware of tweets by Salaita attacking Israel and its U.S. supporters in harsh language.

The tweets, which appeared on Salaita’s personal Twitter account, were posted during Israel’s operation in Gaza last summer.

Salaita has filed a lawsuit against the university, the board of trustees and several administrators claiming that they violated his constitutional rights, including to free speech and due process. He also is suing for breach of contract and for intentional emotional distress. Salaita is seeking compensation and for the job tenured professor in the American Indian studies department.

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