14 August 2014
Chancellor Phyllis Wise
Office of the Chancellor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Swanlund Administration Building
601 E. John St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Dear Chancellor Wise,
I received my Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I have never felt less proud of my alma mater than upon learning of your decision to summarily terminate the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita in the American Indian Studies Program at UIUC. If, as reported in the media, your decision to terminate Prof. Salaita’s appointment was based on his ‘tweeting’ statements about the Israeli genocide in Gaza, that would constitute a violation of his first amendment rights as well as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which declares of faculty members that, “When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”
The Illinois Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure has spoken clearly on this, issuing a statement declaring that “the University of Illinois cannot cancel an appointment based upon Twitter statements that are protected speech in the United States of America.” I would therefore urge you to reverse your decision and reaffirm UIUC’s contractual obligation to Prof. Salaita; any other action would disgrace the university and would compel me to consider whether I could in good faith continue to support UIUC financially or otherwise.
Pauline Park, Ph.D. ’94
cc: Dr. Robert Warrior
American Indian Studies Program
1204 W. Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801