The Steven G. Salaita-University of Illinois Settlement Mediator

Former United States District Judge Wayne Andersen was the mediator in the Steven Salaita settlement dispute with his former employer and tormentor: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Having been deadlocked for over a year, in October the disputing parties agreed to retain the services of Judge Andersen. Since this was not a case that required mandatory adherence to an arbitrator’s decision, the parties were not obligated to accept Judge Andersen’s recommendations. Yet he succeeded, rightly or wrongly, in bringing the parties together, with settlement terms that were publicly revealed on November 12. The cash settlement of $875,000 was relatively close to the $850,000 that was apparently offered many months ago.

According to JAMS, a Chicago-based firm specialising in mediation and arbitration, Judge Andersen has a well-established track record in effectuating settlements. This is a paragraph from their website:

Wayne R. Andersen (Ret.) has served as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois for 19 years and as a state court trial judge for 7 years. Judge Andersen is an active and effective settlement judge who has brokered numerous settlements in a wide range of complex cases. Believing that it is never too late to try to settle, Judge Andersen once ran a streak of seven consecutive jury trials which began, but settled during the trial. As a matter of routine, he withheld entry of judgment on jury verdicts while the parties, usually with his assistance, worked out post trial final settlements. He has coordinated efforts with settlement attorneys at the Seventh Circuit to enable parties to settle even while cases are on appeal. Counsel praise his superb people skills; exceptional legal knowledge; and well written, legally sound, and timely rulings.

The mediator is seventy years old, graduated from Harvard and received his law degree in 1970 from the University of Illinois College of Law. I am pleased that Steven Salaita believed the settlement was in his interest. I am sure the suffering he has experienced, the anxiety over his family’s financial situation, and the concerns about his own future are uppermost in his mind. One has to empathise with a professor who was stripped brutally of a tenured position three weeks before the start of classes in the fall of 2014.

One should support Dr Salaita in his determination to settle, but that does not necessarily require an affirmation that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign should be removed from the American Association of University Professors’ censure list. It is important that the academy express their views on this matter. I agree with Hank Reichman’s comment that a mere settlement does not constitute removal from censure. An institution of higher learning cannot purchase freedom from the list of censured administrations. I also agree that joining the Association is the most effective way for an academician to impact a censure or a removal of censure. Yet it benefits the AAUP to ascertain the pulse of the broader academy as well, since the AAUP represents the entire academic community, and expects universities and colleges across the United States to adhere reasonably to its guidelines and reports.

The University of Illinois must, I believe, demonstrate beyond a mere settlement with a victim of persecution, that it has achieved compliance with the AAUP guidelines on academic freedom, shared governance, due process and the absence of applying a “civility” standard before honouring a proffered, signed contract.

15 thoughts on “The Steven G. Salaita-University of Illinois Settlement Mediator

  1. This is a complicated and to an outsider confusing situation. The original board process and the AAUP process were not transparent. So there is no way to be sure what has gone on. It seems big and rich Jews are blamed for what happened as they are for all kinds of things. I am very active in the SF Bay Area Jewish community. I don’t know people like that. I am sure there are some. Their influence is not visible to me. What the AAUP has been doing in this matter is also being questioned as everyone here knows. People who don’t trust others get upset when others don’t trust them. Such is life.

    • “Big and rich Jews are blamed”? By whom? And the AAUP has not been transparent? Really? As I’ve explained before to Mr. Marshak, the AAUP’s actions in this case have been open and transparent from the start. When the issue first arose the officers released a public statement. After that all communications from our office staff to the UIUC administration were published. Once campus remedies were exhausted we sent an investigating subcommittee to Urbana, which issued an extensive published report. In June Committee A approved a referral for censure to the annual meeting, which was published. The annual meeting had an open discussion of that motion and voted to place UIUC on the censure list. In NONE of these published documents and open discussion can one find even one instance where Jews, big or small, rich or poor, are blamed or even mentioned. Mr. Marshak is entitled to disagree with AAUP’s position on the Salaita case, but I wish he would cease his inaccurate and malicious suggestions that the organization was influenced by anti-semitism or that it has not been transparent.

      • “When the issue first arose the officers released a public statement. After that all communications from our office staff to the UIUC administration were published.”

        Are we to take it those are the only conversations anyone involved in this had about it?

        “NONE of these published documents and open discussion can one find even one instance where Jews, big or small, rich or poor, are blamed or even mentioned.”

        Care may have been taken to that end.

        “Mr. Marshak is entitled to disagree with AAUP’s position on the Salaita case, but I wish he would cease his inaccurate and malicious suggestions that the organization was influenced by anti-semitism or that it has not been transparent.”

        And there we have a personal attack on me. Yet what I have said is accurate and I have no liking for malice. I offered to meet with Hank who lives near me but instead of that or responding to some reasonable questions, he has chosen the route of personal attack. To what end?

        And I have said no word about anti-Semitism. Since the non-Jewish community and most of us in the Jewish community use the word differently, I try to avoid using it.

        Who after all are to be the ultimate arbiters of what is true, just and fair? Am I less worthy than Hank and others?

      • “Mr. Marshak is entitled to disagree with AAUP’s position on the Salaita case, but I wish he would cease his inaccurate and malicious suggestions that the organization was influenced by anti-semitism or that it has not been transparent.” Frankly this strikes me as an over-reaction, although I would be the first to say I don’t know the backstory of prior exchanges between these two gents. And also, of course, AAUP has been singled out for criticism over and over and over by all parties.

        Even so, such hypper-reactivity doesn’t strike me as very productive. Yesterday on Facebook Cary Nelson called me and several other people “assholes” for having the apparent temerity of disagreeing with him or, in my case, questioning his expertise on the Salaita matter given that there was a great deal that he said without, apparently, having read up thoroughly on the facts behind what he said.

        In the case of Mr. Marshak, I in any case don’t read his remark as a criticism of the AAUP as much as a concern for the utmost clarity and disclosure by all parties, something I presume we all agree is necessary?

        I do have to add, though, that I certainly found the CAFT to be less than forthcoming about what they did — for example, I still have no idea if they asked for copies of any FOIAed documents, or what other documents they asked for, or even if their “conversation” with Wise occurred with or without the presence of her attorneys, or via a pre-written script.

        I’ve disagreed with the Hank before on the extent of investigation by the AAUP, which I don’t recall was also completely clear on what THEY asked for, although I have so much drek in my mind about this that I imagine that’s a bit of an overrepresentation.

        In any case, rather than be defensive, Hank, why not bring this back to what it seems everyone wants: a strategy for going forward that’s maximally transparent, and that maximally seeks transparency from the player which has, to date, been ungodly covert: UIUC.

      • I don’t believe I’m being inordinately defensive. Mr. Marshak has repeatedly suggested in comments on this blog, as he has here, that the AAUP blames Jews for Salaita’s dismissal. That is simply not “accurate.” Moreover, if it isn’t tantamount to an accusation of anti-semitism I don’t know what is. I have simply asked him to stop doing this, but perhaps I might have suggested that he at least offer a specific and verifiable source for his accusations if he continues to make them. And I declined to meet with him for the simple reason that I am a volunteer leader, traveling for AAUP nearly every week (I write now from the AAUP Washington office during a break in a meeting of the AAUP Executive Committee), working for the organization as if it were a full-time job and, therefore, frankly, such a meeting would not be a high priority. Nothing personal, but that’s the way it is. Next, of course it is impossible to prove a negative so I can’t “prove” that behind the scenes there was no mention of Jews, but if there was I, as Chair of Committee A, NEVER once heard it. Finally, not that it matters or should matter, for the record I am proud to be Jewish.

        As for Mr. Scheinman’s comment, I appreciate his efforts to clarify what really happened in this case, but as I’ve explained before AAUP’s interest differs. We will continue our efforts to work with the UIUC administration to address the general concerns about academic freedom that led to their censure, but how best to do that is something that is up to the AAUP’s elected leaders, staff, and ultimately its membership.

        And this will be my final remark on any of this.

        • “Mr. Marshak has repeatedly suggested in comments on this blog, as he has here, that the AAUP blames Jews for Salaita’s dismissal.”

          Hank keeps saying I do that as he does here. And my saying I am not saying that has meant nothing to him. I am surprised the personal characteristics of the people who influenced the decision not to affirm the contract were never talked about. The thing is that when I have no information, I don’t invent it to fill in the vacuum.

          “Finally, not that it matters or should matter, for the record I am proud to be Jewish.”

          So are the leaders of JVP who have great disdain for most Jewish leaders.

          I am not happy about people doing to me what Hank is doing. I stand by what I actually say. And I have to wonder why he insists on saying I am taking a position I have emphatically not taken. I have to wonder what assumptions he has that lead him to do that.

          I don’t make up my mind about things just for the heck of it. I don’t think enough information is publicly available to know for sure what has been going on.

          It seems to me that Hank and perhaps others in the AAUP have a cross cultural communications problem with me that has nothing to do with my religion or any views I have about issues. It appears to me that they view their shared agreement as objective proof they are right. I view objective proof as proof everyone agrees with. We can’t get that with many important issues. As we see here, people’s certainty that they are right based on shared agreement blocks getting details about what is or has been going on. The advantage of actual objective proof is that it settles the matter and everyone can move on to a new topic.

  2. Such isn’t necessarily life, with a bit of additional effort on the part of those who, obviously, have already put in a great deal of time and heart into this matter.

    First, I suspect we all support Salaita’s accepting the settlement; the stress on him has to have been devastating and he has small children. It’s his life and that of his family; if he wants to get on with it in this manner that’s something I’m imagining we all respect. That said, with the ending of the Salaita suit there’s every likelihood that NONE of the relevant facts will come to light. UIUC paid for an internal ethics report on Wise’s behavior; without the goad of the suit will we EVER see that document, even a redacted version of it?

    That ethics report is, sadly, only the tip of the iceberg. Wrongdoing occurred up and down the chain of command at UIUC, and even if it was a mediator (not UIUC itself) that steered this settlement, it’s clear that UIUC will continue on to spend whatever it takes to get this to go away without the facts underlying that wrongdoing being released. Over 2M and counting …

    ***

    We can’t let that happen. Especially because it’s about more than the free-speech and employment rights of faculty (not a trivial diad by any means), there’s also the remaining question of “big donor”/”Jewish”/”the Joos” involvement. I’ve been befriended by many Palestinians on Facebook; as a result of the interests of a very few I get to look at vilely anti-Semitic rants. I don’t associate the actions of the few with the outlook of the many, but on the other hand getting the TRUTH out about whether Jews played a role in the Salaita Affair in terms of actual coordinated influence is critical to combat the kind of mindless racism that the meme — left unchecked — fosters.

    So pushing for faculty rights, for the truth so the lies won’t be repeated, and to puncture the spin around Jewish influence — hard to argue that there’s nothing more to be done.

    Then the only question is one of coordination, and coordinated pressure. Who/what is going to coordinate that pressure? That’s the question that needs to be resolved, and soon.

    • I don’t think anything will change some people’s minds about the mysterious and awesome power of the Jewish community. When we prevail in an argument, there are Christian leaders who can’t believe our arguments made more sense than theirs and insist something else had to be going on.

      I am sure Jews talked to people. We are good at explaining our positions. We have had to be. Meanwhile I have no clue about what went on in the AAUP process. I don’t think anyone wants to go into that and what the people involved in that think about the American Jewish community and the role we play in current events.

  3. Near the end of his post original, Mr. Kirsten writes this

    “…the AAUP represents the entire academic community, and expects universities and colleges across the United States to adhere reasonably to its guidelines and reports.”.

    Why? What right have the AAUP to so “expect”? Maybe the first “A” in AAUP really stands for “Arrogant”.

    • Mr. Foster: By the same token, what right have you to criticize Kirstein’s wording?

      Furthermore, he is writing as an individual, much as I might write that ‘the United States expects countries across the world to live up to their treaty obligations.’ Would that lead you to say that maybe the A in USA stands for “Arrogant”?

      • No. It isn’t “the same token”. I don’t “expect” that “universities and colleges to adhere to” my guidelines and reports. And the passage from Kirsten I cited above says “the AAUP…expects….” So he was making an assertion about the expectations held by the AAUP. Perhaps his assertion is in error?

        But the AAUP is not the Inspector-General for all colleges and universities. Its guidelines and reports have no legal nor binding standing, except as may be provided where there is a contractual arrangement with the AAUP as collective bargaining agent.

        Are you suggesting that the AAUP has “treaties” with universities and colleges, even those with whom it has no collective bargaining contract. If so, that’s an odd analogy. But even treaties can be denounced and abrogated, let alone “treaties”.

  4. AAUP is not a policing organisation. Its standing in the academic community results from its role in establishing soft, but common law for the academy. The Redbook is widely proclaimed as the standard by which colleges and universities are judged in their adherence to the basic principles of academic freedom, shared governance and due process.

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in its appointment letters to faculty, such as Steven Salaita, include the AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and the Statement on Professional Ethics which supposedly affirms their commitment to the AAUP guidelines. So I stand by my comment. I believe it is accurate and my name is spelled, “Kirstein.”

    • In the Salaita matter the AAUP are the police, the prosecutors, the judges and the jury. Their decisions are final. They have far more power than the administration at most universities because they are a national organization which speaks with one voice which must be heard and heeded. People running colleges and universities are in an impossible position because they have to sort out the issues conflicting groups which all view themselves as victims have. I can’t sort out all the issues and claims in the Salaita matter. They never will be sorted out. The pro and con camps will go on pushing their competing views for a long time.

  5. In law there’s a very simple concept of actual authority/apparent authority. The idea is that some people ACTUALLY represent an entity and, as such, bind the entity to whatever statements they make — usually contract statements.

    On the other hand someone not a CEO or officer of the entity but waaay down the chain-of-command has no authority to bind the organization except that someone low down representing himself/herself as having authority, or toting around signs of authority (driving the executive car or other trappings of high-levelness) is considered to have “APPARENT” authority, and, as such, binds the entity.

    Actual authority versus apparent authority versus no authority. Why do I go on? Because I have to say that the various people who are all, apparently, merely volunteers or contributors to what the AAUP does would be very helpful to the rest of us if they would:

    1) explicitly state each and every time they opine that they are NOT speaking for the AAUP at all;

    2) If they ARE speaking for the AAUP, say so explicitly; and,

    3) If they’re speaking for themselves, MAKE IT CLEAR that that’s the case, because all too often you project apparent authority.

    Also, it’s probably worthwhile to ask: who DOES speak for the AAUP? Is it only the membership in mass votes? There are no executive officers?

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