A campus committee looking into Steven Salaita's case is wrapping up its work and may issue a report in the coming weeks.
The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure was asked to review the matter earlier this fall. A subcommittee conducted the investigation and is drafting a report.
The report will be sent to University of Illinois President Bob Easter and the executive committee of the Urbana senate.
The 10-person committee conducts hearings when the university wants to dismiss a tenured professor and investigates any alleged violations of academic freedom or violations of faculty governance, as outlined in university statutes and unit bylaws. Its members include faculty from a variety of colleges.
"We'd like to wrap up before winter break," said David O'Brien, committee chairman and art history professor.
The last day of classes for the semester is Dec. 10. Final exams are scheduled through Dec. 19.
O'Brien declined to discuss details of the investigation or report.
"We are awaiting CAFT's report and are looking forward to seeing the committee's conclusions," said Anita Levy, associate secretary with the American Association of University Professors.
Levy and her organization criticized the UI's action toward Salaita in an Aug. 29 letter to UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise. The university's "aborting" of Salaita's appointment without demonstrating cause is tantamount to summary dismissal, "an action categorically inimical to academic freedom and due process and one aggravated in his case by the apparent failure to provide him with any written or even oral explanation," Levy wrote.
The AAUP Foundation gave Salaita a $5,000 grant last month.
Levy and her colleagues have been following the case, but have not made a determination yet. They prefer these kind of matters to be handled by faculty, she said, "and we know the CAFT committee is a fairly illustrious one. We're looking forward to an excellent report."
The committee's findings and how university administrators respond will determine the AAUP's next steps, she said.
The AAUP's executive director can launch an investigation when there are multiple or egregious violations of AAUP standards on academic freedom and tenure. Votes on censure are taken at the organization's annual meeting, which is held in June.
An English professor at Virginia Tech, Salaita was offered a job in 2013 in American Indian Studies and was planning to join the Urbana faculty this fall. Over the summer, he blasted Israel and its supporters on Twitter, posting tweets such as, "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just (expletive) own it already," and "If you're defending #Israel right now, you're an awful human being."
In August, Wise notified Salaita that she would not forward his appointment to the board of trustees for formal approval. Meeting in Urbana on Sept. 11, the board rejected Salaita in a 7-1 vote. Trustee James Montgomery was the lone vote in support of Salaita, citing concerns about free speech and the lack of consultation with faculty about the decision.
Salaita broke his social media silence in recent weeks while traveling the country to speak at college campuses. A sampling of his Twitter takes at @stevesalaita:
#DarrenWilson's supporters repeatedly imply that police are pure and noble until corrupted by their encounter with Black people. #Ferguson
If my joblessness gives you pause about defending the oppressed, then please consider the response to the firing, not the firing itself.
Would somebody more civil than I please inform the dittoheads that "diarrhea" doesn't actually rhyme with "sharia"? Thanks in advance.
Despite the intense effort of its supporters, criticism of #Israel is no longer taboo. To the contrary, it is now seen as a moral duty.