U of I Department Head Says Decision To Withdraw Offer Harms University Reputation

Aug 11, 2014

Credit University of Illinois

A week after the University of Illinois reportedly withdrew a job offer to a professor who posted controversial comments on Twitter, the head of the department overseeing that position says the decision harms the university’s reputation and ability to attract talented professors.

Robert Warrior directs the U of I’s American Indian Studies program.  He says Steven Salaita told him the university emailed a letter telling him of its decision, which came after Salaita resigned from his previous job at Virginia Tech. 

“He has no explanation and frankly as a unit executive officer I also don’t have an explanation,” Warrior said.

Warrior says it’s an issue of academic freedom and that none of the comments by Salaita – many critical of Israel -- justify losing a job. Others, including U of I professor Cary Nelson, say academic freedom only applies to current employees, not prospective hires.

The University says it does not comment on personnel matters.  Salaita did not respond to interview requests.