Academic Senate endorses hiring policies report

By Abigale Svoboda

On Monday, the academic senate voted to recommend changes in hiring policies at the University in response to the handling of Steven Salaita’s appointment earlier this year.

The resolution — presented by history professor Mark Steinberg — endorsed the final report of the Hiring Policies and Procedures Review Committee. The report made three recommendations, two of which address the Board of Trustees.

The first recommendation suggests the board continue oversight of faculty hiring through the review and approval of all faculty administrative appointments at the level of deans and above. The second recommendation, however, suggested that the board formally delegate the appointment of non-administrative, tenure and tenure-track faculty to the president, who should continue the current policy of delegating approval to the chancellor and provost.

The final recommendation states that the campus should review its procedures for off-cycle tenure review to ensure the processes continue to operate both rigorously and efficiently.

Cary Nelson, professor in English, said he is concerned the resolution is “a mixture of apples and oranges.” Nelson said only about 10 percent of Salaita’s work concerned American Indian Studies, the department to which he was appointed. Because of this, Nelson said his appointment was not as thoroughly reviewed as some argue.

Kirk Sanders, co-author of the report and classics professor, said that Salaita’s application was not only reviewed by the American Indian Studies department but also consisted of external letters of recommendation and other committees.

Steinberg’s proposal of the resolution to endorse the report sparked more debate about the report and the handling of the case itself.

Bruce Levine, professor in history, stated no matter what the resolution leads to, the senate should still take the opportunity to express its opinion.

Also during the meeting, Chancellor Phyllis Wise said President Robert Easter will report whether he supports forming a College of Medicine on the Urbana campus at the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday. Wise said she isn’t sure of his decision, but she is hopeful the votes of the academic senate and the University Senates Conference will influence his decision.

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