Prof. Salaita Sues U of I Leaders, Board Of Trustees
A professor who lost a University of Illinois job offer over his profane, anti-Israel Twitter messages has sued the university's board of trustees and key administrators to try to get that job.
Steven Salaita filed his lawsuit Thursday in Chicago.
In it he asks the court for an order letting him go to work at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus. He also seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Salaita was offered a job teaching Native American Studies starting last August. The offer was rescinded after he wrote the Twitter messages. Some university donors complained they were anti-Semitic.
Salaita left a job at Virginia Tech University to come to Illinois but his hiring hadn't yet been approved by the trustees.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Salaita only spoke briefly of his financial troubles, and then focused on academics.
"I deeply miss being in classroom where I always learned from students, in addition to teaching them," he said. "My primary motivation in bringing this suit is to join my colleagues in the American Indian Studies program and begin teaching.”
U of I Trustees recently reaffirmed their position on Salaita would not be reconsidered. The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure cited problems with the way the case was handled.
In a statement, a U of I spokesperson cites some of Salaita’s Twitter messages, saying that he lacks the ‘judgment, temperament, and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of the university’s faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East.’ It also notes the Trustees’ decision was not reached hastily, and was not the result of external pressures.
Salaita filed a separate lawsuit earlier, seeking e-mails contending the U of I was pressured by donors to cancel his faculty appointment.