Academic Freedom Update

September 2, 2014, 1:51 pm

Those of us who read our Twitter feed before bed (bad habit, don’t start) were cheered to see late last night that the pressure on the University of Illinois to reverse itself in the Steven Salaita case is altering the state of play. In a reversal of her August decision, Chancellor Phyllis Wise has decided to send the Salaita appointment to the Board if Trustees for a September 11 vote. Whether the pushback from thousands of scholars vowing not to engage and canceling, from the AAUP, and from numerous public letters of protest written by distinguished scholars ultimately persuades them that this was a colossal error is yet to be seen.  Go to Corey Robin for the full story, and for Robin’s views about what this latest development might mean.

Representatives of a major professional association have also weighed in on the case. Go to the American Historical Association blog to see a letter of concern to Phyllis Wise from past President of the AHA Kenneth Pomeranz, President Jan Goldstein and President-elect Vicki Ruiz. These three distinguished scholars urge Wise to “reinstate the offer of a tenured position” to Steven Salaita. They cite the charge of incivility, the lack of procedure and their belief that if this decision is allowed to stand it will have a “chilling effect” on all faculty, tenured and untenured, at the University of Illinois.

Who will be the first college or university president to stand up for academic freedom in the Salaita case?


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