Denial of Job to Harsh Critic of Israel Divides Advocates of Academic Freedom

August 07, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 7th, 2014

Leading proponents of academic freedom are divided over a last-minute decision by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to revoke a job offer to a professor accused of incivility in his criticisms of Israel.

Phyllis M. Wise, the campus’s chancellor, and Christophe Pierre, the University of Illinois system’s vice president for academic affairs, informed the job candidate, Steven G. Salaita, on Friday that they were effectively revoking a written offer of a tenured professorship made to him last year by refusing to submit it to the system’s Board of Trustees next month for confirmation.

The two administrators’ letter to Mr. Salaita did not offer an explanation for their decision other than to say they believed the board’s approval of his appointment was unlikely. But they sent their letter just weeks after Mr. Salaita first came under fire on the popular conservative blog The Daily Caller for his incendiary criticisms of Israel, and many faculty members on the campus suspect the rare job-offer revocation was in response to that controversy.

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