To my fellow members of the Campus Faculty Association and other colleagues at Illinois and beyond,
As American Indian Studies has been responding to unprecedented actions from the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre in our hiring of Steven Salaita as a tenured Associate Professor in our program, I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and solidarity of the CFA, members of the Illinois faculty, thousands upon thousands of concerned academics around the world, and even more thousands of students and citizens from Illinois and around the world who value freedom from political interference in our research and teaching. I want to express my heartfelt thanks, and I appreciate this forum CFA provides for me to do just that.
I also want to comment on something I have heard too often in the press and on our campus in relation to Professor Salaita’s lack of public comments on his situation. Though I cannot speak for him and do not purport to do so, I do not think it is wise or fair for any of us to assume that he is not speaking because he is seeking or is about to reach a financial settlement with the University of Illinois. He does have legal representation. So does the university, as was clear to me from the moment the chancellor notified me of her decision and copied university legal counsel Scott Rice on the message. The fact that Professor Salaita also sought legal advice and representation as easily indicates his need to protect himself from a powerful state institution with enormous resources at its disposal as it does anything else. I would suggest that all of us consider the many possible reasons someone might seek legal counsel at a difficult time such as this one he finds himself in and temper our views and comments accordingly.
With my thanks and appreciation,
Director and Professor
American Indians Studies
Member, Campus Faculty Association