At its annual retreat this afternoon, the faculty of the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois cast a vote of no confidence in UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise.
Our sentiment is based on Wise's decision to effectively fire Prof. Steven Salaita, whose de facto hire had been properly vetted by the unit and approved by the college through standard academic procedures. This process culminated in the signing of a good-faith contract between Prof. Sailata and our college, and only awaited customary rubber-stamp approval by the UIUC Board of Trustees.
In clear disregard of basic principles of shared governance and unit autonomy, and without basic courtesy and respect for collegiality, Chancellor Wise did not consult American Indian Studies nor the college before making her decision.
While she has yet to furnish specific reasons, we believe that Chancellor Wise's decision was in fact made in response to external pressures that sought to block Prof. Salaita's hire, coupled with her objection over the content and tone of his personal and political tweets over the subject of Israeli bombing of Palestine.
With this vote of no confidence, the faculty of UIUC's American Indian Studies program also joins the thousands of scholars and organizations in the United States and across the world in seeing the Chancellor's action as a violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech.
We are grateful for the solidarity and support that our colleagues have already shown us in this matter, and we invite other units on our campus to similarly take up the question of whether or not the Chancellor deserves the confidence of our University's faculty.