Regarding the Recent Hiring Controversies and Their Implications for Shared Governance
This is an extremely dangerous moment for the future of shared governance and academic freedom at UIUC. First in the case of lecturer James Kilgore and now again in the case of Professor Steven Salaita, decisions made by the faculty and the unit administration have been set aside by campus administration. The Salaita case marks the second time in three months that the administration, at the behest of the Board of Trustees (BOT), has reversed a hiring decision made by faculty, unit executive officers, and the dean of LAS. (The Board’s intervention is strongly suggested in the Kilgore case, where we are still awaiting some disposition from a university committee. It is specifically confirmed in Salaita’s case, by Chancellor Wise’s letter). In both cases the negative decisions were made quickly and without consulting faculty.
In her revocation letter to Prof. Salaita, Chancellor Wise wrote that she thought it was unlikely that the BOT would approve his contract. The highest academic office of this campus has a responsibility to do more than gauge the direction the wind may blow at a BOT meeting. More and more, faculty shared governance is becoming political meteorology.