Letter from Harry Hilton to the University of Illinois Trustees
September 8, 2015
Dear Chairman McMillan and Members of The University of Illinois Board of Trustees
I had originally asked to address the Board September 10, 2015 meeting in a non-confrontational and helpful manner about steps that needed to be taken by the BoT and the UI and UIUC administrations for them to be removed from the National AAUP’s list of Censured Administrations. The request was denied by your Board secretary because of pending litigations. I next indicated I would re-move any reference to Dr. Salaita and possible settlement leaving only such University items as academic freedom, shared governance and certain procedural matters that needed attention and appealed the denial. The appeal was also denied for the same reasons.
If you wish I am prepared to share these items with you in executive session that I would attend only for the length of time pertinent to the presentation and possible discussion. Permit me to state that I believe we have reached a sad state of affairs when a faculty representative of a responsible faculty organization is not permitted to address the Board on matters of mutual interest, such as academic freedom, shared governance and certain procedural items. We fully acknowledge that the UI BoT is the ultimate legal governing body of the University and we will of course abide by your rules. I simply question the efficacy of refusing to entertain what has been billed as a potentially helpful presentation for censure removal.
The Report recommending censure of the UI and UIUC administrations and the UI BoT does not offer specific remedies leading to censure removal, it points to conditions and events of past administrative actions. Furthermore, it is not the place of the local AAUP Chapter to recommend detailed cures. True shared governance demands that these be implement by academic senates and ultimately by the BoT. Consequently, I will only speak to broad areas that need attention.
At a minimum, the following topics should, in our view, be addressed forth with:
An official policy statement by the chancellors, president and Board of Trustees reaffirming their individual and institutional support of the AAUP principles of academic freedom, shared governance and of responsibility and civility as spelled out in the AAUP Redbook.
Answers to the 2013 UIUC SEC faculty questionnaire indicated a disturbing number of shared governance aberrations. The UIUC Senate and/or SEC need to follow up with the appointment of an ad hoc committee to address these issues and propose additional campus wide uniform codification of shared governance procedures to be followed by all the various units.
Hiring procedures need to be further strengthened and clarified. UIUC Senate resolution RS.15.06 (approved 2/16/2015) points to a number of problem areas. Immediate implementation of proposed remedies should be initiated.
Before disapproval of a proposed tenured or tenured track individual appointment is announced by the provost, chancellor and/or president proper consultations should take place with the committees and unit heads that forwarded the recommendation.
A speedy approval process of a potential hiring offer with proper deadlines at all levels and a check off list should be formulated.
BoT dismissal appeal procedures
BoT has not formulated or published any procedures for dismissal appeal hearings. During the Wozniak appeal BoT allocated four (4) hours to the hearing with no witnesses allowed. However, a number of university administrators were allowed to testify. The pertinent statute articles need to be augmented to include BoT procedures in a manner similar to the enumerations of the CAFT dismissal hearing procedures.
A number of these proposed changes and improvements to existing procedures will need strengthening by appropriate wording of the UI Statutes and Provost Communication documents.
Potential financial settlement with Dr. Salaita
With or without the legal court case developments, a speedy settlement should be achieved with Dr. Salaita. In censure cases, the National AAUP does not call for specific items only for a resolution agreed to by both parties or mandated by court action.
Other items that may surface with time
Other items may come to light as UIUC and UI proceed to take corrective measures.
Timing for removal of censure
The earliest time at which censure could be removed is at the next annual AAUP meeting in June 2016. This would mean the University would have to have completed and in place by December 31, 2015 all necessary changes including complete approval of statute revisions by the three Senates. This would allow the national Committee A and its investigating committee to prepare their reports. From a practical point this does not seem doable. Therefore, June 2017 would appear to be a more plausible earliest target date.
In conclusion, we would like to offer the help of the Chapter officers, Policy Committee and membership in the UI censure removal process.
Harry H. Hilton
UIUC AAUP Chapter President
Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering