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.