Dear Colleagues:

I write to address the June 13 vote by the American Association of University Professors to censure the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign administration. The censure is focused on the hiring decisions and processes involving Professor Salaita, as well as AAUP concerns about the application of a civility standard as a restriction on academic freedom. The full text of the resolution can be found on the AAUP web site. 

This decision, while disappointing, was not unexpected. The AAUP committee that formulated the resolution had announced several weeks ago that it would be putting the resolution forward for this vote.

We take this decision by the AAUP seriously.  We understand that it will have repercussions on the scholarly activities of many in our community, and we intend to address both the censure and the underlying concerns through our established processes of shared governance.

In the past year, we have taken several steps to move our campus forward and reaffirm our commitment to principles of academic freedom and shared governance. We have engaged in repeated and substantive attempts to reach a settlement with Professor Salaita. And throughout this time, we have also been in regular communication with the leadership of the national and local AAUP regarding these steps. We will continue that active engagement with them to determine avenues and actions to clear this censure as quickly as possible, and to minimize its impact on our educational and scholarly missions. 

As I have said many times, my August 2014 massmail was not intended to establish a policy on speech or a campus speech code. I believe any such code would be an unacceptable restriction on the academic freedom of our faculty. It was not my intention to make our campus a focal point for the complicated, nuanced and ongoing national debate on the nature of civility and higher education, and I sincerely regret that my message did so.

As we move forward, I am committed to working with everyone on this campus to continue to support the outstanding level of scholarship, teaching and engagement that our state, nation and world expect of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Phyllis M. Wise

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