The Steven Salaita Affair: Denial of Job to Harsh Critic of Israel Divides Advocates of Academic Freedom

Salaita head shot

Peter Schmidt details the Steven Salaita controversy over at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

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.

Mr. Salaita did not return emails on Wednesday requesting comment. He had already resigned a position as an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech to take the new position as a tenured professor of American Indian studies at Urbana-Champaign, starting next week.

More here. Corey Robin has a post with links to pieces relating to the affair.