The chorus of scholars who have criticized the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its decision not to hire Steven G. Salaita grew louder on Friday, when the American Association of University Professors said it was “deeply concerned” about the matter, and another department at the university announced its vote of no confidence in the administration.
Mr. Salaita was offered a tenured professorship in American Indian studies last year, an offer contingent upon approval by the university’s Board of Trustees. The university decided not to put Mr. Salaita’s appointment before the board after he drew scrutiny for his profane tweets about Israel.
Many academics have criticized the university’s decision, including members of two of the university’s own programs: American Indian studies, which Mr. Salaita was set to join, and the philosophy department. On Friday, a third—Asian-American studies—declared that it had no confidence in the university’s chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, and its Board of Trustees. The Asian-American studies department’s no-confidence vote was first reported by The News-Gazette.
In a letter to Ms. Wise on Friday, the AAUP added to the mounting criticism of the university, saying it was “deeply concerned” about the actions against the professor. The letter states that blocking a job offer in this manner is “tantamount to summary dismissal.”
“We see that a very serious issue of academic freedom has been raised by the actions against him, an issue that will not be resolved as long as the actions remain in effect and their soundness has not been demonstrated by the University of Illinois administration under requisite safeguards of academic due process,” the letter continues.
The AAUP said Mr. Salaita should be paid a salary according to the terms of his appointment, pending the conclusion of a review by the university’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.