Spreading No-Confidence Votes at University of Illinois

First it was the American Indian Studies Program. Now it is the philosophy department that has voted no-confidence in Phyllis Wise, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign President Easter, Board of Trustees Chairperson Christopher Kennedy and the rest of the board. Their n0-confidence vote is sweeping and appropriate given the “civility” test that has arbitrarily been imposed without faculty input.

Faculty have the right under shared governance to determine the criteria for tenure and appointment. AAUP has promulgated principles that emphasise the primacy of the faculty role in the determination of the composition of the professoriate. While the administration ultimately grants tenure and proffers contracts, it is the faculty that is responsible for the identifying, vetting and ultimately recommending to an administration whom it wishes to appoint. From the seminal American Association of University Professors 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities , we have a carefully delineated conferral of appointment primacy with the faculty:

The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process. On these matters the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board or delegated by it to the president should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty. It is desirable that the faculty should, following such communication, have opportunity for further consideration and further transmittal of its views to the president or board.

Tweets do not justify “exceptional circumstances.” The faculty of the University of Illinois should be given an opportunity to contest this decision, to demand “further consideration,” and to reclaim its shared governance role in determining faculty status and the qualifications of the faculty. University bylaws and handbooks are where the criteria and process are defined in employment decisions and not from legally vetted ex cathedra pronouncements that were apparently influenced by fund raisers and special interest groups of the Israel lobby. I find it astonishing that Chancellor Wise would impose such a standard outside the traditional triad of teaching, scholarship and service.

My initial source was a faculty member at the University of Illinois who e-mailed me this action by the intrepid Department of Philosophy:
No Confidence Vote by Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign approved the following resolution today (August 28):

“Whereas the recent words and actions of Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and the Board of Trustees in connection with the revocation of an offer of employment to Dr. Steven Salaita betray a culpable disregard not only for academic freedom and free speech generally but also for the principles of shared governance and established protocols for hiring, tenure, and promotion, the faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign declares its lack of confidence in the leadership of the current Chancellor, President, and Board of Trustees.”

See also News-Gazette front page that may time out.

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