The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved Thursday an $875,000 settlement agreement with Professor Steven Salaita that will end his lawsuits against the university—but will not provide him with a job. Salaita sued after former chancellor Phyllis Wise retracted the offer of a tenured position two weeks before he was to start teaching last year.
Wise later said the retraction was due to “incivility” demonstrated in statements Salaita made on Twitter that were critical of Israel’s 2014 military offensive in Gaza.
“This settlement is a vindication for me, but more importantly, it is a victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment,” Sailata said in a statement released by his attorneys.
In the run-up to the settlement, Wise resigned (after the release of e-mails from her personal account). The administration had received “no confidence” votes by 16 of its academic departments; thousands of academics worldwide had pledged a boycott of the university; and the AAUP had placed UIUC on its censure list.
Salaita attorney Anand Swaminathan, of Chicago firm Loevy & Loevy, said the size of the settlement “is an implicit admission of the strength of Professor Salaita’s constitutional and contractual claims.” Salaita was also represented by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
According to a statement posted by the university, “Salaita will receive a lump sum payment of $600,000 but will not be hired by the University, nor will he seek or accept future employment at the University. The University also agrees to pay Salaita’s attorneys for legal costs he incurred.”
Those legal costs and fees account for the additional $275,000.