(06Oct14) Interviewed today by The Daily Illini, UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise defended her recent decision to fire Humanities Professor Steven Salaita. Dr. Salaita resigned a tenured position at Virginia Tech almost a year ago to teach indigenous studies at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, but the offer was withdrawn because of his tweets defending the rights of occupied Palestine. In an unprecedented move, Chancellor Wise obtained a vote against Salaita by the board of trustees which historically has rubber stamped recommendations by university faculty and provost.
Wise says she would have "taken the same action if it was someone who was for Israel as someone who was for Palestine." and claims that donors played no role in her decision.
14 departments at the university have issued votes of no confidence, and scholars around the world continue to boycott in protest at a very sensitive time for the UI community, while they search for a new president.
Her hopeful statements about the presidential search seem to be undermined by the firing of Salaita, who has ended his since early this month and has stated that he will thake the university to court.
On Saturday morning, he was interviewed on the Northwestern University campus by Chuck Mertz for This is Hell. An excerpt is attached.
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