A.A.U.P. Salaita Letter to Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I received permission from Gregory Scholtz, Director, A.A.U.P. Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure and Governance, to release this letter:

December 30, 2014

Dr. Phyllis Wise

Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Swanlund Administration Building

601 East John Street Champaign, Illinois 61820

Dear Chancellor Wise:

The approval and December 23 release by the UIUC Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) of its investigating committee’s report has certainly confirmed our belief that the issues raised by the case of Professor Steven Salaita are of the highest importance for the University of Illinois and higher education nationally, calling for an AAUP investigation and report.

The CAFT report upon its arrival was distributed to the membership of our standing Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the AAUP body responsible for the release and potential publication of investigative reports, and members of Committee A have been examining the CAFT report during the holiday break. Our staff executive director, who is responsible for authorizing investigations, has determined that in this case charging an AAUP ad hoc committee with conducting a site visit as the basis for a report would be redundant at best. The CAFT subcommittee has investigated essentially the same issues as would an ad hoc AAUP committee, assessing actions and positions taken in the Salaita case in the context of both UIUC official policies and AAUP-supported standards, which, more often than not, are identical. The executive director has accordingly asked Committee A to approve a report based on the CAFT report, including its three appendices, that will provide Committee A’s own findings and recommendations, which may agree or disagree in whole or in part with those of CAFT.

We expect within the next week or two to provide the concerned parties at UIUC with a draft text, inviting corrections and comments that Committee A will consider in approving a final text for publication.

Sincerely,

Anita Levy, Ph.D.

Associate Secretary

Cc: Chair Christopher Kennedy, University of Illinois Board of Trustees

President Robert A. Easter, University of Illinois

Dean Barbara Jan Wilson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Chair Roy H. Campbell, Senate Executive Committee

Robert Warrior, American Indian Studies Program

Steven Salaita

UIUC Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure:

David J. O’Brien, Chair, Fine and Applied Arts

Andrew G. Alleyne, Engineering

Melody M. Allison, Library

Matthew W. Finkin, Law

K. Gunsalus, Engineering

Christopher Roy Higgins, Education

Mark D. Steinberg, Liberal Arts and Sciences

President Harry Hilton, UIUC AAUP Chapter

Chair Bruce Rosenstock, Campus Faculty Association

Chair Henry Reichman, Members, and Consultants, Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, AAUP

Julie Schmid, Executive Director, AAUP

President Michael Harkins, President, Illinois AAUP Conference

Chair Peter Kirstein, Chair, Illinois AAUP Conference Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure

3 thoughts on “A.A.U.P. Salaita Letter to Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  1. Absolutely astounding.

    It is almost certain that no investigating committee of AAUP National Committee A has ever in the history of the organization produced a site visit report without first interviewing the living complainant, the aggrieved professor — yet the current “administration” of the AAUP has accepted the CAFT report in lieu of a formal site visit, a report which, the blog host has informed us, intentionally skipped that essential formal requirement. Ex post facto, a local committee has supplanted the ad hoc national committee whose third-party objectivity is the purpose of its very establishment.

    Yet another betrayal of the AAUP legacy by the current leadership: In “celebration” of the centennial, the AAUP leadership is reserving more of the treasury for its personal travel expenses and for union organizing activities in pursuit of almighty agency fee dollars — rather than supporting longstanding obligations in the matter of Committee A operations.

    Dewey and Lovejoy are turning in their graves — most especially Prof. Arthur Lovejoy who himself criss-crossed the nation, personally conducting site visits in high-profile academic freedom cases.

    • Yes, I don’t understand the AAUP’s acceptance of this report either for the reason you stated-no discussion with Salaita. That’s not an oversight; it’s a glaringly obvious hole in the duties of the AAUP.

      I suspect that the AAUP wants to accept the report, because it does not (yet?) have the political will to take on the problems in the report. Perhaps, Committee A will take the CAFT report and point out to CAFT its errors.

      But I feel certain that Committee A will not have the nerve to move toward censure of U of I. Why? I don’t know, but that’s just my admittedly speculative take on things thus far.

      I think this will all be settled in a lawsuit in which the U of I donor so enthralled with his money and relationship to the university will be the deep pockets. I am very concerned about the message the AAUP national will send to all of us about academic freedom and speech. It’s deeply troubling in the age of social media.

  2. Pingback: What’s Wrong (and RIght) about the CAFT Report on Salaita | The Academe Blog

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