The chancellor of the University of Illinois' flagship campus says she expects the campus to be censured by the American Association of University Professors over the decision not to hire a professor following his anti-Israel tweets.
But Chancellor Phyllis Wise says she hopes to be able to convince the influential group to undo that reprimand as quickly as possible. A dramatic and fairly rare step in the academic world, an AAUP censure can damage a university's reputation.
"I've been told by people who know better than me that we should expect to be censured," Wise told the campus Senate Executive Committee Thursday. "We hope to be able to respond in a way that can get us uncensured as quickly as we possibly can."
An AAUP committee plans to decide Saturday whether to recommend that the Urbana-Champaign campus be censured over its choice not to hire Steven Salaita for a tenured job to teach Native American studies classes. If that recommendation is made, AAUP members would vote in June.
Wise has been criticized by some faculty for both the decision not to hire Salaita and for a following statement in which she said the university wouldn't tolerate "personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them." Some critics said that amounted to a campus speech code.
In documents sent to the AAUP and obtained by The News-Gazette in Champaign (http://bit.ly/1QfA8HD ), Wise says she is committed to academic freedom and freedom of speech.
The university last year rescinded the job offer for Salaita after a long series of anti-Israel tweets complaining about Israel military action against Palestinians. Some university donors complained Salaita's messages were anti-Semitic. He has since sued the university, claiming he'd already been hired.