University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Friday that the university was right to deny a faculty job to a professor whose anti-Israel Twitter messages were considered by some to be anti-Semitic.
Steven Salaita accepted an offer starting this fall to be a Native American Studies professor but was told would not be hired after he later posted profanity-laced Twitter messages during Israel's war with Gaza in July. The Board of Trustees last week declined to change that decision.
According to reports, Kennedy says it was absolutely clear they could not bring Salaita onto campus.
Supporters of Salaita, who has said he now plans to sue the university, believe he effectively already had been hired and so his speech was protected by academic tenure. They said professors routinely begin work before the board approves their hires.
Kennedy defended senior university officials against accusations from some faculty members that they violated Salaita's due process and infringed on academic freedom and faculty hiring procedures.