Chancellor Wise Throws Down the Gauntlet; Consults with Attorneys to Consider Her Legal “Options” against UIUC

by Corey Robin on August 14, 2015

In a stunning turn of events tonight at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the chancellor who hired the professor, then fired the professor by claiming he had never been hired in the first place; who resigned in the wake of an ethics scandal over her use of a personal email account (and destruction of emails) in order to hide evidence related to pending litigation over the firing of the professor; whose resignation was rejected by the UI Board of Trustees so that they could formally fire her instead (and thereby avoid paying her a $400,000 bonus previously agreed upon), is now resubmitting her resignation to UIUC and consulting with lawyers in order to consider her legal options and to protect her reputation from the very university that, under her leadership, systematically destroyed the reputation of the professor she fired by claiming he had never been hired in the first place.

Let’s back up.

Last Thursday, Phyllis Wise resigned from her position as chancellor of UIUC. The immediate cause, it seemed, was a federal judge’s ruling that day against UIUC’s motion to dismiss Steven Salaita’s lawsuit. The judge held in no uncertain terms that UIUC’s claim that it had never truly hired Salaita—and thus had not denied him the academic freedom and free speech rights it was bound to honor—was horse manure.

By Friday, however, it became clear that there may have been another reason for Wise’s resignation. UIUC released 1100 pages of emails, many related to the Salaita case, that Wise had sent from her personal account—and that she (or they) had not previously released as they had been obligated to do. In one of those emails, Wise admits that she had been warned by UIUC officials not to use UIUC email “since we are now in the litigation phase,” that she was “even being careful with this email address [her personal account],” and that she was even “deleting after sending” emails.

It was also announced that day that UIUC had conducted an internal ethics probe of Wise’s behavior regarding the emails.

In the next few days, two controversies exploded.

The first was over the email revelations, which not only cast Wise in the potentially criminal role of destroying—or “spoliating”—evidence relevant to a federal lawsuit but also potentially undermined, and rather severely so, UIUC’s own position in the Salaita lawsuit.

The second involved the $400,000 bonus Wise had managed to extract from UI President Timothy Killeen for herself upon her departure. Everyone from the governor of Illinois, who sits on the UIUC Board of Trustees, to Chris Kennedy, the former chair of the Board, criticized the massive payout to Wise. In Kennedy’s words:

I wouldn’t give someone $400,000 to leave peaceably if they (did what she did). My belief is that those emails will reveal behavior that should be investigated. This is actionable information. You can fire someone for cause for this. When have we started giving money to people who (do this)?

Yesterday, the Board reconsidered the payout to Wise. Hoping to avoid litigation (the terms of her contract seemed to stipulate that she was due some kind of bonus upon departure), the Board refused her resignation, made an arrangement for her to assume another position in the university, and voted to initiate proceedings to dismiss her. The operating assumption seemed to be that if the proceedings were successfully concluded against her, Wise would have no standing to sue for breach of contract.

Now we come to tonight’s stunning turn of events. Wise has rejected the university’s offer of a temporary position, has resubmitted her letter of resignation, and has issued the following statement:

In the past week, the news media has reported that I and other campus personnel used personal email accounts to communicate about University business; some reports suggested I did so with illegal intentions or personal motivations. This is simply false. I acted at all times in what I believed to be the best interests of the University. In fact, many of these same communications included campus counsel, Board members, and other campus leaders. 

On Tuesday, in the spirit of placing the University first, I acceded to the Board’s and the President’s request that I tender my resignation. In return, the University agreed to provide the compensation and benefits to which I was entitled, including $400,000 in deferred compensation that was part of my 2011 employment contract. The $400,000 was not a bonus nor a golden parachute; it was a retention incentive that I earned on a yearly basis.

Yesterday, in a decision apparently motivated more by politics than the interests of the University, the Board reneged on the promises in our negotiated agreement and initiated termination proceedings. This action was unprecedented, unwarranted, and completely contrary to the spirit of our negotiations last week. I have no intention, however, of engaging the Board in a public debate that would ultimately harm the University and the many people who have devoted time and hard work to its critical mission. Accordingly, I have again tendered my resignation as Chancellor and will decline the administrative position as advisor to the President.

These recent events have saddened me deeply. I had intended to finish my career at this University, overseeing the fulfillment of groundbreaking initiatives we had just begun. Instead, I find myself consulting with lawyers and considering options to protect my reputation in the face of the Board’s position. I continue to wish the best for this great institution, its marvelous faculty, its committed staff, and its talented students.


Long story short: she’s calling her lawyers, preparing her next move against the University. One expert on these matters predicts she will sue. And UI’s President Killeen admits that the trustees’ move against her, in the words of ABC News, “could bring more litigation.”

This story has more irony than a Brecht play. In no particular order.

1. Salaita is hired but then is told, no, you’re not really hired, so that he can be fired. Wise is forced to resign, but then is told, no, you’re not really resigned, so that she can be fired.

2. Wise complains that not only is she the victim of a university administration that puts politics above principles and reneges on its contracts with its employees—all true, by the way—but that such actions are also “unprecedented.”

3. Suddenly, the UI Board of Trustees is concerned about contracts with its employees.

[Chair of the UI Board of Trustees Ed] McMillan said that his primary concern in negotiations with Wise was to be in compliance with her employment contract.

“That was the important thing from my standpoint, was trying as best we could to be in compliance with the agreement that she signed four years ago. That was the part I was very concerned about,” he said. “The lawyers were concerned about that also.”


4. In an article on Wise’s situation earlier today, before this latest news was announced, Inside Higher Ed devoted four full paragraphs to the, well, read for yourself:
But Raymond Cotton, a lawyer who specializes in contract negotiations on behalf of college and university presidents, was critical of the Illinois board. Wise is not Cotton’s client, and he said he doesn’t know the details of her contract or the board’s thinking. But he predicted that Wednesday’s developments will hurt the university.

Boards and presidents sometimes need to part ways, he said. And presidents may be less likely to do so if they think an agreement they make won’t be honored. And this in turn will affect the way the university is seen by potential candidates to succeed Wise. “As soon as Dr. Wise is gone, the board is going to be looking for a new president,” Cotton said. “What my clients tell me is that one of the key decision points is to look at how the board treated the prior president.”

Further, Cotton said that $400,000 may seem like a lot of money, but that the university was going to get “closure” for paying that sum. Instead, he said, the university may face other costs. “When presidents are fired for cause, they have nothing left to lose, so these cases end up in litigation, and that’s expensive, time-consuming and generally ends up being injurious to the reputation of the university.”

Cotton also said that academics should not be quick to cheer the board’s actions, whatever they think of Wise. University leaders made a deal with Wise and backed out after getting pressure from the governor and other politicians, he noted. “It is rarely in the best interest of a university for a board to yield to political interference by elected politicians,” Cotton said. “A question for the board is: Have they turned over their responsibilities to politicians?”


All this concern for how the Trustees’ move against Wise may negatively affect UIUC’s ability to recruit future presidents and chancellors. Not a word about how UIUC’s actions against Steven Salaita have already—not hypothetically but demonstrably— affected its ability to recruit graduate students, speakers, and new faculty. And all reported without any hint of irony. The pains of power are registered so precisely here. And those of the not-so-powerful?

In the meantime, the boycott continues. Just four days ago, another professor refused an invitation to speak at the UIUC.

 

{ 50 comments }

1

tony lynch 08.14.15 at 6:55 am

Retention incentive?

2

Andrew Fisher 08.14.15 at 7:36 am

Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m reminded of the case of Sharon Shoesmith.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/may/27/sharon-shoesmith-baby-p-tragedy

3

Niall McAuley 08.14.15 at 8:18 am

I don’t think this is a stunning development, I don’t find it even a little surprising. A treacherous weapon is ever a danger to the hand.

4

William Burns 08.14.15 at 11:22 am

I really hope this ends up with Salaita being president of the university.

5

Cranky Observer 08.14.15 at 11:33 am

= = = Everyone from the governor of Illinois, who sits on the UIUC Board of Trustees, to Chris Kennedy, the former chair of the Board, criticized the massive payout to Wise.

It is unclear what Rauner’s game is here, but I suspect he is preparing himself for the storm that will follow his proposal of Scott Walker-style cuts to the University of Illinois system. He’ll attempt to convince the faculty that he is on their side in opposing bloated administration costs whilst simultaneously telling the hard right wing that he is chopping “professors'” salaries.

6

Layman 08.14.15 at 12:51 pm

Wise calls the $400K both a ‘retention incentive’ and ‘deferred compensation’. These are not the same things at all.

The former is a payment you receive for still being employed as of the payment date. It is a mechanism to discourage your leaving for greener pastures.

The latter is an agreement to forego part of your compensation earned now, and collect it later, usually after your departure. Again, usually payment can be stretched out over a number of years. It is a mechanism for managing taxable income while you’re working, and providing for post-departure income, and often it comes with other incentives. The employer may e.g. treat the deferred compensation as a non-qualified retirement plan investment, and reward you through the plan by making additional employer contributions to the deferred amount, or by guaranteeing your return on investment.

Obviously the difference matters. If it is truly deferred compensation, it should be paid, regardless of what Wise has done.

7

Lynne 08.14.15 at 1:13 pm

“Yesterday, in a decision apparently motivated more by politics than the interests of the University, the Board reneged on the promises in our negotiated agreement and initiated termination proceedings. This action was unprecedented, unwarranted, and completely contrary to the spirit of our negotiations last week.”

How can she say this with a straight face?

8

AcademicLurker 08.14.15 at 1:27 pm

So to be clear, regardless of what commitments UIUC has made in writing, anyone from grandstanding politicians to anonymous donors can come along at any time and get the university to renege on agreements it made years ago.

If “a contract with UIUC isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” is the message that the trustees are trying to send, they certainly are doing a fantastic job.

Lynne@7: Yeah, “unprecedented” was a truly classy touch.

9

Barry 08.14.15 at 1:31 pm

“Further, Cotton said that $400,000 may seem like a lot of money, but that the university was going to get “closure” for paying that sum.”

Meaning the closure of Wise’s mouth (and private records). They really, really f-ed this up. Everything coming out of her lawsuit can be used by Salaita, and vice versa.

10

AF 08.14.15 at 2:11 pm

Very interesting, thank you for reporting. The irony strikes me as more Morisettian than Brechtian though. The fundamental problem with the UIUC’s and Wise’s behavior is that they fucked Salaita over and then bullshitted and concealed evidence to hide their tracks. That UIUC is moving to fire Wise (after a false start) and that Wise is crying foul seem like fairly predictable consequences of the whole thing blowing up in their faces. Sort of like rain on your wedding day.

11

AcademicLurker 08.14.15 at 2:14 pm

Sort of like rain on your wedding day.

“It’s good advice that you just didn’t take” seems like the more apposite lyric in this case…

12

Barry 08.14.15 at 2:26 pm

AF: “Very interesting, thank you for reporting. The irony strikes me as more Morisettian than Brechtian though. The fundamental problem with the UIUC’s and Wise’s behavior is that they fucked Salaita over and then bullshitted and concealed evidence to hide their tracks. That UIUC is moving to fire Wise (after a false start) and that Wise is crying foul seem like fairly predictable consequences of the whole thing blowing up in their faces. Sort of like rain on your wedding day.”

The thing is that you’ve got to be careful f*cking over the higher-level administrators who did your f*cking over for you. They’ve got evidence, and can be damaging witnesses against you.

The standard method is to pay them enough to go away and shut up, because fighting it would be a poor bet. They’ve changed that poor bet for Wise to her wisest bet.

13

cwalken 08.14.15 at 3:36 pm

This might be giving Rauner too much Machiavellian credit, but could this “screw up” be intentional? The more embarrassing it gets for the university, the more he can say that academics aren’t fit to run institutions and have cover to impose more political control, reduce university (and faculty) autonomy, and cut and control spending.

Isn’t the latter exactly what Kennedy was afraid of in the Salaita case and at least part of the impetus for firing him?

14

Snarki, child of Loki 08.14.15 at 3:47 pm

I wonder if it’s possible for the Feds to revoke UIUC’s Land Grant for reasons of egregious dumbfuckery?

15

Fuzzy Dunlop 08.14.15 at 4:06 pm

This might be giving Rauner too much Machiavellian credit, but could this “screw up” be intentional? The more embarrassing it gets for the university, the more he can say that academics aren’t fit to run institutions and have cover to impose more political control, reduce university (and faculty) autonomy, and cut and control spending.

For that reason, I think it’s important that the trustees (all or mostly from non-academic backgrounds, right?) not escape blame here. But it seems like, whatever Rauner’s intention, giving Wise the golden parachute would have served that purpose better than putting her in a position where she feels the need to fight it out in court. Now the wrongdoing of donors and trustees will be more visible, as opposed to Salaita’s or Wise’s faults.

16

David Hilbert 08.14.15 at 5:08 pm

The governor is certainly playing politics but it’s not to justify a yet to be announced cut in higher ed funding. Months ago he proposed cutting state funding for all the state universities (including the University of Illinois) by 31%. In his fight with the legislature over the budget he latches on to any piece of news that makes state government look bad. This also came up on the heels of a widely publicized outrageous payoff to a suburban community college president so why the U of I leadership thought they could just slip this by is a mystery to me (and how the chair of the BOT got out of sync with the governor who appointed him is also mysterious). In addition to the politics, this is how the Chicago Tribune sells papers these days.

I doubt the governor has any plan for higher ed beyond cutting state support and I doubt he’s given any thought to what the consequences of doing that will be.

17

AF 08.14.15 at 6:27 pm

Academic Lurker #11 you are right. I had forgotten that lyric.

18

Collin Street 08.14.15 at 10:04 pm

This might be giving Rauner too much Machiavellian credit, but could this “screw up” be intentional?

IME, reactionaries nearly all have empathy problems and are unable to understand others well enough to engage in that sort of planning.

19

Mr Punch 08.14.15 at 10:05 pm

Wise, it seems to me, deserves the money. I’m presuming that the form of the hiring process, in which Salaita was legally offered a job before his appointment was fully approved, was not her fault. At that point, she could have simply advanced his name to the trustees and forced them to reject the appointment, or withdraw him. She took the heat for the trustees; they owe her.

20

js. 08.14.15 at 10:42 pm

Just wow. I wonder how many of the trustees and administration higher-ups are now thinking: “Fuck, we should just have kept him on and let the Twitter storm blow over.” It’s got to be a non-zero number.

21

LFC 08.15.15 at 12:40 am

David Hilbert @16

This also came up on the heels of a widely publicized outrageous payoff to a suburban community college president so why the U of I leadership thought they could just slip this by is a mystery to me

If I’m interpreting this correctly, D. Hilbert is suggesting that paying Wise the $400K on her resignation wd be “outrageous” (as the payment to the unnamed community college president was). Yet if, as the OP suggests, Wise’s employment contract w the Board of Trustees specified that she wd receive this payment or some payment (whatever the payment was technically called) on departure/resignation, then it seems the Board shd have paid her. Otherwise, as the OP and many commenters have observed, they’re just getting themselves into hotter water. The contract’s terms themselves might be deemed ‘outrageous’ I suppose (depending on the details), but the Bd’s honoring those terms isn’t outrageous.

22

oldster 08.15.15 at 1:45 am

http://www.dailyillini.com/article/2015/08/university-accepts-second-resignation

Huh. So, the latest is:

1) board will accept Wise’s resignation’
2) will not seek to dismiss her;
3) she will join faculty at 300k/year after a 1-year sabbatical;
4) she will not receive 400k payout.

Looks like the trustees realized that they still have an overriding interest in paying her to keep silent. And she realized her silence was not worth quite as much as she had hoped.

What an unlovable bunch. I feel sorry for the students and the faculty at this place.

23

David Hilbert 08.15.15 at 6:00 am

LFC

I didn’t intend to express any opinion at on the correctness (or outrageousness) of the decision to make the payment to Wise. I was merely trying to provide some of the local political context to those who outside Illinois to explain why the payment was criticized so heavily by politicians from both parties (and not just the governor). I did intend to suggest that the decision-makers at the university should have anticipated the political fire-storm that announcement of the payment provoked.

I mostly wanted to make the point that Rauner isn’t engaged in some subterfuge to justify proposing huge cuts to higher education spending. He quite straightforwardly proposed those cuts months ago, along with many others, as part of the ongoing war between the governor and the state legislature.

24

Tabasco 08.15.15 at 9:01 am

“Unprecedented”

LOL.

25

Lynne 08.15.15 at 12:23 pm

@ 20 I wonder. It wasn’t a Twitter storm they were afraid of, was it, so much as the displeasure of wealthy donors, and the implied threat of withheld future donations? Still, they might well wish they’d risked that displeasure, given the continuing boycott, the court case, and the negative publicity. I really can’t tell what motivates these people—I thought last year they must be motivated either by money (big donors) or a sympathy to Zionism, or both. Now I don’t know.

26

Lynne 08.15.15 at 12:24 pm

Huh. My comment in moderation.

27

Carl 08.15.15 at 1:55 pm

Does UIUC have a history of stabbing people in the back? This seems pretty egregious.

28

Teachable Mo' 08.15.15 at 2:57 pm

This sounds a little like the joke about the guy accused of killing his parents asking for mercy because he’s an orphan.

29

TM 08.15.15 at 3:43 pm

22: I’m mystified why she would accept foregoing the $400k. She has a tenured position anyway which they can’t take away.

30

oldster 08.15.15 at 4:04 pm

@27–possibly as a way to forestall the dismissal proceedings. People prefer to resign than to be fired, and if she had been fired the 400k would not be forthcoming either.

@26–don’t you need to add on a back-story where the guy accused of killing his parents who asks for mercy was also a judge in a previous case in which he denied any mercy to a guy accused of killing his parents who asked for mercy because he was an orphan?

31

Cranky Observer 08.15.15 at 4:44 pm

= = = I mostly wanted to make the point that Rauner isn’t engaged in some subterfuge to justify proposing huge cuts to higher education spending. He quite straightforwardly proposed those cuts months ago, along with many others, as part of the ongoing war between the governor and the state legislature. = = =

That’s one interpretation, and the one you have chosen to advance which is fine. Unless you are holding deep personal conversations with Rauner and can confirm that though the rest of us might form different interpretations based on events, public information, known long-term goals of the hard radical right (as currently expressed by Walker), trends in Illinois politics, etc.

32

mbw 08.15.15 at 5:22 pm

David Hilbert is correct that Rauner proposed enormous cuts months ago. Wise had been a member of Rauner’s transition team. Her close associates and strongest supporters have been the local Republican establishment (Peter Fox, Habeeb Habeeb). There’s no honor among thieves.

High administrators privately say they can handle the $210M/yr cut if they have “3 or 4 years to adjust.” Why that time scale? That’s how long it takes to replace ~14,000 Illinois students with out-of-state or foreign students paying at least $15k/year more tuition.

33

LFC 08.16.15 at 2:30 am

David Hilbert @23: ok, got it; I misinterpreted your earlier comment.

34

TM 08.16.15 at 5:19 pm

Doesn’t it make a difference that Rauner doesn’t have the support of the legislature, as Walker does?

“replace ~14,000 Illinois students with out-of-state or foreign students paying at least $15k/year more tuition”

Everybody tries that now. It can’t possibly work for everybody.
Nationally, student enrollment has peaked and is in decline.

http://nscresearchcenter.org/currenttermenrollmentestimate-spring2015/
https://nscresearchcenter.org/currenttermenrollmentestimate-fall2014/

35

Chaz 08.16.15 at 6:26 pm

@34 I think it can at least partially work. There are a lot of upper middle class kids at state universities who could afford to pay higher tuition. Plus you can load then up with more debt. As openings for local students at the top state schools in their home state dry up they will go to a top out of state school instead and pay more. Naturally there are lower middle class and working class students who won’t be able to do this; they will have some combination of a) being shunted into lower tier state universities and taking on huge student loans and b) being forced out entirely. As they are forced out they can be replaced by a fresh crop of untalented upper middle class students who would have previously not been admitted.

So the public universities will just become like the private universities: drawing rich and upper middle class students from all over the country, with a few token “scholarship students”. The schools which by whatever means manage to be popular will keep selection standards somewhat high, admitting the best students among the subset of rich students and the less popular ones will admit whoever can pay.

36

Layman 08.16.15 at 6:32 pm

“There are a lot of upper middle class kids at state universities who could afford to pay higher tuition.”

That’s certainly counter to conventional wisdom. Why do you think that to be the case?

37

Mike Furlan 08.16.15 at 10:56 pm

“Rauner has also said that his foundation’s $250,000 donation to a Walter Payton initiative in 2009 had nothing to do with his daughter’s admission the year before. Rauner says he has given money to a lot of schools over the years.”

Our Governor has nothing but contempt for your silly concerns about affording education.

And a majority of the voters agree. Very sad, and I will not enjoy watching this play out.

38

js. 08.17.15 at 1:33 am

Lynne — you’re right, my “Twitter storm” thing wasn’t accurate. Which I sorta realized as I was typing it out, but mostly was enjoying entertaining thoughts of trustees etc. coming to deeply regret their Salaita decision, even if for all the wrong reasons! But as you note, there was probably no regret in the first place.

39

mbw 08.17.15 at 2:12 am

@TM #34 I didn’t say it will work. Dunno. Just that this is what they’re thinking. Because of our (UIUC, not so much UIC and UIS) very strong engineering ranking and excellent reputation in China and Korea, it’s far from a crazy idea. Of course, then the state will be even less motivated to support us, ….

40

mbw 08.17.15 at 2:16 am

@TM #34 On Rauner and the legislature, it should make a difference that the D’s have a strong majority. But unless they can push through a return of a more reasonable tax rate (not the current flat 3.75%) we’re all screwed.

41

tony lynch 08.17.15 at 4:39 am

Can I ask again about retention incentives?

Who gets them? Why are these people encouraged to act in market inefficient ways? Do they in fact work? (One imagines that many of those who get them are precisely those who could get a lot more than the retention incentive provides. And getting one might simply signal that one is one of these people, so in fact encourage, not discourage, looking for a new position.) Is a retention incentive just a sneaky way of distributing a bonus to favoured, already relatively well remunerated people? Is it, for these people, some sort of compensator for lack of severance pay?

42

Barry 08.17.15 at 1:14 pm

tony, I think that it can work in several different ways:

1) It puts ‘golden handcuffs’ on key people – if they leave, they don’t give up possible payments, but actual contractual payments.

2) It’s a sneaky way of giving favored people a raise. Somebody can be ‘paid’ $XX per year, but then they get bonuses-under-another-name.

43

AcademicLurker 08.17.15 at 1:21 pm

Is a retention incentive just a sneaky way of distributing a bonus to favoured, already relatively well remunerated people?

Yes.

44

Layman 08.17.15 at 1:48 pm

“Can I ask again about retention incentives?”

Retention incentives are a cash alternative to something like stock options. They’re superior to stock options in that the value is known in advance and guaranteed – if you stay, you get paid – and inferior in the sense that the value is fixed, or capped, in a way that stock options are not. In my experience they’re less common than stock option grants, but that may have changed in recent years. They were most likely to be used in cases where stock options weren’t a credible alternative – in privately-held companies with no strategy for ownership change, or companies with declining valuations, or non-profit organizations. They are certainly counted as part of overall compensation – that’s really the point, they want to raise the bar for your potential next employer, to price you out of the market.

They’re not an alternative to severance because if you’re severed, you don’t get paid. Deferred compensation is more likely to serve as a severance alternative, or additive.

45

tony lynch 08.18.15 at 11:51 pm

Thank you all. Re the severance pay matter. In Australia, with a few exceptions, redundancy payments linked to length of employment are a statutory requirement. Not though if you are fired for “serious misconduct.”

46

Layman 08.19.15 at 12:19 am

Re: severance as a statutory requirement, this is not generally the case in the worker’s paradise of America. In some companies, it may be required as part of a labor agreement, but as few companies are union shops anymore, that’s rather rare. Companies may have severance policies for workers, sometimes official but often informal, and they’re all over the map. If I had to guess based on my own experience, I think something like 2 weeks per year of service would be regarded as a very progressive policy, but many companies give just 2 weeks, period.

Severance for executives is of course another matter. Often it is detailed in employment contracts, or in a confidential policy covering select senior leadership roles. In my experience, a year’s salary, bonus, and benefits isn’t unusual. Keep in mind that these executives are basically being terminated for performance failures or personality fit issues, not being made redundant, so it’s generous. This has the effect of discouraging resignation, even if one knows one is in the doghouse. The trick is to find your next job while you are at the same time provoking your own sacking.

47

Main Street Muse 08.20.15 at 5:31 pm

Best first sentence in the history of Crooked Timber posts.

Former Chancellor Wise: “…in a decision apparently motivated more by politics than the interests of the University, the Board reneged on the promises in our negotiated agreement and initiated termination proceedings.”

As others have noted, it is hilarious she thinks this is unprecedented on the part of the university. Last minute contract surprises are obviously the standard at UIUC. However, she did not pull the idea to fire Salaita from thin air – have a feeling emails will show significant pressure to fire him came from outside of the chancellor’s office. If she DID act unilaterally, it’s amazing she’s kept her job for as long as she did.

Rauner does not appear to have the brilliance needed for such a Machiavellian scheme.

The state of Illinois and its higher ed system appear to be doomed for many reasons…

Wondering when Salaita will start his UIUC career.

Wasn’t Kennedy one of the people supposedly eager to fire Salaita? Or am I mis-remembering the details?

48

mbw 08.20.15 at 5:49 pm

@msm #47 The chronology of the emails makes it very clear that Wise did not initiate the firing idea. It came from the Board. Given the context, Kennedy almost certainly was the biggest player.

49

Sebastian H 08.20.15 at 6:43 pm

If the firing idea came from the board, they are going to have trouble firing her “for cause”. [Note contractual technicalities could always change this general opinion.]

50

Main Street Muse 08.20.15 at 8:39 pm

Sebastian H @ 49: “If the firing idea came from the board, they are going to have trouble firing her “for cause”. [Note contractual technicalities could always change this general opinion.]”

And also note that contractual technicalities seem to matter very little at UIUC…

UIUC is in a HUGE pickle over this! Astonishing the university’s legal team had no idea this could be a possibility when they reneged on Salaita’s contract last year. This ain’t over, not by a long stretch.

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