President Timothy Killeen is completing his first month as leader of the University of Illinois system. In remarks before the Urbana-Champaign faculty Senate Executive Committee, he was rather cavalier about the AAUP censure vote last Saturday. Unlike Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise, who stated in a conciliatory tone that removal of censure was important, President Killeen, according to the The News-Gazette of Champaign, Illinois, was rather dismissive of its impact.
He stated the UIUC campus does not need a “get-out-of-jail card” and that the university should not be concerned about “what people say about us outside.” Many believe Dr Salaita was fired due to external donour pressure and well-orchestrated e-mail campaigns to revoke his tenure. Aside from that, I wonder if the president is aware of significant “inside” resistance to the Salaita tenure travesty. President Killeen did not reference the departments and programs that voted no confidence in the administration after the firing and summary dismissal of Dr Salaita. He apparently was unaware of significant student protest and rallies in defence of having professors that are not anodyne reflections of elite opinion.
While the new president stated he was not “dismissing” the censure, as a CEO of a corporate university, he spoke in vague generalities about shared governance and moving forward. I wonder if anyone in the upper-administrative stratosphere on the UIUC campus has reflected on the impact of this on Dr. Salaita? Where is the empathy? A professor resigned his position at Virginia Tech to accept a tenured position at Urbana-Champaign and is fired shortly before fall semester. He is reduced to financial crisis and moves his family to live with relatives. Such brutal treatment was apparently a calculated business decision to satisfy donour rage and satisfy mass e-mail-censorship efforts.
This display of cool detachment is not cool. It is reflective of a growing chasm between the administrative class and the professoriate. The latter is construed as chattel labour that must behave in a civil manner or face career termination. That is what happened with Dr Salaita, and a “get-out-of-jail card” requires his restoration to the American Indian Studies program. This would end the unwarranted abuse of a professor who was deeply moved and upset during the military operations in Gaza last summer.