California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to AAUP about censure of U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Rudy Fichtenbaum, President

Henry Reichman, First VP and chair of Academic Freedom Committee

Nancy McKenney, IV District Council Member

B. Robert Kreiser, IV District Council Member

Gregory F. Scholtz, Academic Freedom Committee staff;;;

Dear AAUP Colleagues,

On behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom*, an organization with over 150

members, we urge you to keep the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on your list of

censured administrations. Although we are pleased that the UIUC has acknowledged its

wrongdoing to the extent that it has granted monetary compensation to Professor Steven Salaita

for illegally firing him, we are troubled that the administration has so far refused to make whole

the department it deprived of his services. There is only one way for the UIUC to certify full

academic freedom on campus: the administration must restore to Professor Salaita and the

American Indian Studies Program the position it took away in August 2014.

Although it relieves the financial distress of a deserving colleague, the recently announced

settlement is hardly a victory for academic freedom. Considering the amount of money at the

disposal of the donors who forced the cancellation of his hiring, $875,000 is quite literally

chump change and can be very easily absorbed as the cost of doing business by those who

wanted him out. Indeed, this whole process could act as a deterrent to faculties operating on the

academic margins, such as indigenous studies or other routinely attacked disciplines. Given

what has happened at UIUC, will such disciplines not think twice before choosing to hire

scholars who directly challenge the views of outside economic interests, which have increasing

sway over corporatized universities?

We are reassured to read on the AAUP website that Henry Reichman, chair of the AAUP’s

Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, does not believe that the settlement with

Professor Salaita automatically entitles UIUC to change its current status as a censured

institution. We hope that Professor Reichman, as he “work[s] with the university to see it get off

the censure list,” will keep in mind the above issues and all the issues raised by the “Statement of

Academics,” to which we fully subscribe. UIUC must remain a censured institution until it gives

Professor Salaita the choice to take up the position for which he was originally hired.


California Scholars For Academic Freedom*

contact persons:

Katherine King, Comparative Literature, University of California Los Angeles, AAUP Member,

Rose Marie Kuhn, French California State University Fresno, AAUP Member,

* California Scholars for Academic Freedom is a group of scholars who defend the academic

freedom and first amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond,

recognizing that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom

everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and

administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness

of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large

through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.


November 29, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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