A year ago the University of Illinois American Indian Studies program had seven core faculty members.
Post-Salaita, it's down to two.
The UI's decision to withdraw a job offer to Professor Steven Salaita last year after his provocative tweets about Israel prompted a nationwide boycott by many academic groups over concerns about free speech and academic freedom. Departments feared they would lose top colleagues or be unable to recruit new faculty.
Looking back, the impact appears to have varied by program.
The humanities did well overall in searches for this year, filling 20 of 23 positions advertised, according to Vice Provost Abbas Benmamoun.
"It's true that last year we did a good job of recruitment, despite a lot of the things that were going on," said Professor Martin Camargo, associate dean for humanities in the College of LAS.
What the numbers don't show is who may have decided not to apply because of the controversy, Benmamoun said.
Two departments, history and Asian-American studies, also postponed faculty searches because of the Salaita controversy, though both are moving forward now, Camargo said.
The Department of History put off its search for a tenured U.S. history expert because of the American Historical Association's "very strongly worded" letter blasting former Chancellor Phyllis Wise for the Salaita decision, said history Professor Antoinette Burton.
"That's one of our main conduits for recruitment," she said.
While new Ph.D.s looking for entry-level faculty positions may not have the flexibility to turn down humanities jobs, which aren't "super abundant," tenured faculty are harder to recruit, Camargo said. They may have families, established research groups or other factors that keep them in place.
The Department of History decided to go ahead with the search this year because of the importance of American history to the program, Burton said. One longtime American history professor recently retired, she said.
On the other side of the ledger, senior faculty members were hired away from anthropology, Latina/o studies, English, philosophy, and Spanish and Portuguese this past year, though Camargo didn't know how many of those were related to Salaita.
The American Indian Studies Program was "traumatized," he said. The department lost two faculty members to the University of Minnesota, Vicente Diaz and his wife, Tina Delisle. The UI had to make counter-offers to retain two other professors, who asked to move to other UI departments where they had joint appointments, Camargo said. Professor Jodi Byrd is now in English and gender and women's studies, and Professor Matt Gilbert moved to history.
The department is down to department head Robert Warrior, who was a finalist for a position at UCLA last spring, and a beginning assistant professor who started last year.
"That's really a great shame," Camargo said, citing the program's national reputation.
Warrior said he is "ready and willing" to work with campus leaders to help them understand what it would take to rebuild the American Indian Studies Program. But it would be a complicated process, he said, given both the "Salaita fiasco" and the history of the program on campus.
"It can't just happen tomorrow. There are steps the campus leadership needs to take to understand what happened to the program we had," Warrior said.
With the recent censure from the American Association of University Professors, "even more of our competitors are likely to recruit other members of our faculty, and we will have a more difficult time retaining them if there are severe cuts in the university's budget," Camargo said.