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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Censured at AAUP Annual Meeting

On June 13, 2015, members of the AAUP at its annual meeting voted overwhelmingly to censure the administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of the dismissal of Steven Salaita.

Harry Hilton, president of the UIUC AAUP chapter (and who was also president of the chapter in 1963 when UIUC was censured for the firing of Leo Koch) declared: “We firmly believe that if censure is voted, it will be instrumental in improving the statutes so that this does not happen again.” He noted that a poll of the AAUP chapter members found that a majority of those voting supported censure.

Past president Cary Nelson was the only speaker out of about a dozen at the meeting to oppose censure, and only a handful of members opposed censure in the voice vote. Nelson argued about Salaita that “the appointment was based more on political than on scholarly criteria.” He said that “the rush to censure has been compromised by anti-Israel sentiment,” a claim that AAUP Vice President Henry Reichman sharply rejected.

UIUC professor Bruce Levine noted, “You can’t miss the fact that this was a political firing.”

The AAUP also voted to censure the administrations of the University of Southern Maine, Felician College, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and to remove Yeshiva University from the censure list.