The University of Illinois Board of Trustees today announced that it will never reconsider the dismissal of Steven Salaita, and it will not listen to any faculty committee about Salaita’s qualifications: “That decision is final.”
According to the trustees, “The decision concerning Dr. Salaita was not reached hastily. Nor was it the result of external pressures. The decision did not present a ‘new approach’ to the consideration of proposed faculty appointments. It represented the careful exercise of each board member’s fiduciary duty and a balancing of all the interests of the University of Illinois. In the end, this is a responsibility that cannot be delegated nor abdicated.” Actually, hiring faculty is not a fundamental responsibility of the Board, but a power that easily can and definitely should be delegated and abdicated. It would be as simple as the Board declaring that it is delegating its normal hiring authority over faculty appointments to the president and chancellors, which is exactly what the Board does with adjunct faculty, and exactly what many Boards do for all faculty. Considering that the Board of Trustees is entirely unqualified to judge faculty, is incapable of examining the large numbers of hires made each year, and has declared that it uses non-academic criteria to determine faculty hires (and even those who supported the firing of Salaita have criticized the Board’s approach), the best possible outcome for the University of Illinois would be if the trustees did exactly that.