AN EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH CHANCELLOR WISE

Campus Faculty Association President Bruce Rosenstock shares his email exchange with Chancellor Wise about the administration’s reaction to the CAFT report.

—–Original Message—–

From: Rosenstock, Bruce

Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:00 PM

To: Wise, Phyllis M

Subject: can we meet?

Dear Chancellor Wise,

You were kind enough to ask to meet me when I sent you an email earlier. I enjoyed our conversation. Now, as president of the Campus Faculty Association, I would like to ask you if I can meet with you in the near future so that I can present you with a petition from a number of faculty members who would like you to reconsider your decision to not allow the formation of a faculty committee of experts to assess Steven Salaita’s professional fitness. This recommendation, as you know, came from a committee of the Academic Senate one of whose members (Matt Finkin) is the nation’s foremost legal expert in the field of academic freedom. I believe that the CAFT report offers a way forward, even now, after the Board has said it would not reconsider the Salaita case and after Steven Salaita has filed a lawsuit against the University.  I would like to present you with the petition in person and to discuss with you what many of us feel remains our best option for resolving our current situation.

And, by the way, I would like to caution you that the university news release today regarding the Salaita lawsuit makes a patently false statement regarding the CAFT report. It states that “The Board’s decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures. Indeed, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure concurred that “donor influence” was not a basis for the decision.” As you are perfectly aware, the CAFT report limited itself to saying only that they found no evidence that you, Chancellor Wise, made your decision on the basis of donor influence (something you said to me in person, and which I accept). However, the CAFT report never asserted that “the Board’s decision” was not influenced by one or more donors. I would hope that our university represent itself with complete truth and honesty in its upcoming lawsuit. I therefore think that we ought to retract this part of the news release, or at least correct it to say clearly that the CAFT report found no evidence that your decision was influenced by donors.

Respectfully,

Bruce

________________________________________

From: Wise, Phyllis M

Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:57 PM

To: Rosenstock, Bruce

Subject: RE: can we meet?

Dear Bruce,

Thank you for your email. I don’t think it is worthwhile for us to meet. The Board of Trustees has spoken clearly that they will not re-consider their decision. They have the final authority in this matter. Therefore, I do not believe that it is worth your time or mine to revisit the possibility to remand the consideration of hiring Dr. Salaita to a committee in LAS. If you would like to send the petition to me, I am glad to read it.

Sincerely,

Phyllis

—–Original Message—–

From: Rosenstock, Bruce

Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 9:05 AM

To: Wise, Phyllis M

Subject: RE: can we meet?

Dear Phyllis,

I am sorry to hear that you don’t think it’s worthwhile to meet. I would have wanted to discuss with you several questions that the currently 65 tenure-track faculty from various campus units and colleges have deputized me, as president of CFA, to ask you. Before I make any public statements regarding our petition, I would like to offer you a chance to reply to these questions. The faculty whom I represent would very much like to hear your answers to these questions:

  1. Concerning your deliberations about the CAFT report: Before you decided how to respond to the CAFT report recommendation to “remand Salaita’s candidacy to a committee of faculty experts,” did you consult with any of the individuals who were signatories to the letters of no confidence that were presented to you by a number of LAS units? Did you consult with anyone who could be expected to support the CAFT recommendations? Did you consult with any of the four faculty members who wrote the report?
  2. Your deference to the Board of Trustees: Is your decision to reject the CAFT recommendation concerning a remanding of the candidacy of Salaita based solely upon your belief that the Board of Trustees will not reconsider Salaita’s candidacy? If it is not, what would your decision be if you had no knowledge of what the Board would do? Would you still reject this recommendation and why?
  3. Your apparent repetition of the same flawed decision-making process: You have said that your decision-making process in the case of Salaita was flawed because you failed to consult with faculty before taking the step you did on August 1. The reason you offered for making the decision you did on August 1 related solely to the future action of the Board of Trustees in his case. In the ensuing months you came under considerable criticism for the decision you took on August 1 and you have claimed that you would act differently  (even if the decision might be the same) in the future. Looking at your decision to reject the CAFT recommendation concerning the remand of Salaita’s candidacy to an LAS committee, someone might say that you repeated the same decision-making process that led to your August 1 decision. You did not consult with individuals who would have offered you a wide spectrum of opinions, and you acted (it seems) largely in expectation of what the Board of Trustees would do. How would you respond to someone who said that you seem to have simply repeated the same flawed decision-making process that led to our current situation?
  4. If you were informed by the national AAUP that enacting all the recommendations of the CAFT report at this date would be sufficient to remove the threat of sanction from all members of the university except for the Trustees (and also from them, if Salaita’s candidacy comes before them again and they approved his hire), what would you do? Would you choose to accept censure? Why?

These questions are of deep concern to a very large group of faculty on this campus. I hope you find that while a personal meeting with me is not worthwhile, a response to  the concerns of your faculty is worthwhile.

Respectfully,

Bruce

________________________________________

From: Wise, Phyllis M

Sent: Monday, February 02, 2015 4:50 AM

To: Rosenstock, Bruce

Subject: RE: can we meet?

Dear Bruce,

I appreciate and respect your concern on behalf of your colleagues, as well as the perspectives of those who hold differing views. As such, I want to reiterate that I would be happy to receive and read your petition. As I have stated many times, I look forward to working together as a community of scholars and colleagues to move forward to address the challenges and opportunities that face us in the coming year.

Sincerely,

Phyllis

—–Original Message—–

From: Rosenstock, Bruce

Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2015 11:00 AM

To: Wise, Phyllis M

Subject: RE: can we meet?

Dear Phyllis,

I am now sending to you the Petition to Support the CAFT Report Recommendations below this message. I am attaching a pdf file with the list of 67 faculty who have signed so far. In the email chain below you will also find four questions that I once again respectfully would ask you to respond to on behalf of these faculty and also many others who are members of the Campus Faculty Association. You said nothing in response to these questions earlier, so I would like to give you one more opportunity before I make public the petition, the signatures, and the questions. Thank you for taking the time to consider the petition and our request for clarification regarding your decision in regard to the CAFT report. Here, then, is the Petition:

PETITION TO SUPPORT THE CAFT REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

Recently, the Academic Senate’s faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) concluded that in the case of Steven Salaita the University failed to live up to its commitment to full and careful compliance with University procedures. We are now facing the very real threat of censure from the national AAUP unless we act upon the CAFT report recommendations.

The CAFT report makes three recommendations to remedy this failure.

First,  “Steven Salaita’s candidacy [should] be remanded to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for reconsideration by a body of qualified academic experts.”  We request that Chancellor Wise charge the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to form a committee of qualified academic experts, chosen in consultation with the College Executive Committee, who will examine the question of whether Steven Salaita’s candidacy should be terminated on grounds of his “professional unfitness” under the standards laid out in the University Statutes and the AAUP governing documents referenced in the CAFT Report.  Some faculty members have suggested that a “fair and objective review” of Steven Salaita’s professional fitness is no longer possible in this “highly politicized and polarized campus.” We repudiate such cynicism. There is no reason to believe that a duly constituted committee is incapable of completing a fair and objective personnel action in this or in any other case. If Professor Salaita is ultimately found to be professionally fit to serve as Associate Professor in the Program in American Indian Studies, we expect that Chancellor Wise will thereupon forward his letter of hire to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation of approval. If he is found unfit to serve according to the standards articulated in the University Statutes and relevant AAUP governing documents, his candidacy may then be officially terminated.

CAFT’s second recommendation is that “statements made by the Chancellor, President, and Trustees asserting civility as a standard of conduct should be withdrawn.” We ask that all named parties should offer an official retraction of their statements concerning civility as a standard of conduct.

Finally, the CAFT Report recommends that “the university take responsibility for the financial consequences to Dr. Salaita of its irregular adherence to its own policies and procedures.” We ask for the university to make a good-faith effort to fulfill all its financial obligations to Steven Salaita. We understand that the financial consequences to Steven Salaita include at a minimum the loss of his salary from the start date of his employment stipulated in his October 3, 2013 letter of hire to either the date of assumption of his teaching duties at the university or to the date of the official termination of his candidacy.

In a statement issued on January 15, 2015, the Trustees of the University of Illinois have declared that they will not reconsider the appointment of Steven Salaita if it comes before them a second time. They have said their decision is final. We hope that they will change their position on this matter. We hope that they will not want to take responsibility for placing the entire University of Illinois under censure from the AAUP.  The only way forward now is to follow the recommendations of the CAFT Report. Please show your support for this petition by emailing campusfacultyassoc@gmail.com with your name, title, and affiliation. Finally, please share this petition with others.

Bruce Rosenstock

______________________________________

From: Wise, Phyllis M

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2015 6:38 AM

To: Rosenstock, Bruce

Subject: RE: can we meet?

Dear Bruce,

Thank you for sending this email and the attached signatures. As I have said in a previous email to you I look forward to working with you to address the challenges and opportunities that we face.

Best,

Phyllis

 

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