University of Illinois, Steven Salaita to settle litigation
Salaita to receive $600,000, will not join Urbana faculty
November 12, 2015
CHICAGO — The University of Illinois and Steven Salaita have reached a negotiated resolution regarding all legal claims, putting an end to a 14-month employment dispute that allows both parties to move forward while focusing on their respective priorities.
Under the proposed settlement, 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. Legal claims Salaita made against the University in federal and Illinois courts will be voluntarily dismissed.
The proposed settlement agreement will be considered by the Board of Trustees at its Nov. 12 meeting in Chicago, and it will be recommended for approval by the administration. The settlement payments would be covered by University self-insurance and by institutional funds. The proposed agreement stipulates that it does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the University.
Urbana-Champaign campus Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said the proposed settlement respects the best interests of all parties.
“The University believes that reaching a settlement with Dr. Salaita is the most reasonable option to fully and finally conclude all of the pending issues. Although the amount is significant, it is less than what we would spend if the case were to continue and proceed to trial over the next year,” Wilson said.
“Considerable time and energy have gone into this case and it is time now to move forward. This negotiated agreement will allow the Urbana campus to focus on our goals of excellence in teaching, research and public engagement,” Wilson said. “And it will allow Dr. Salaita to move forward with his academic career.”
The two sides voluntarily agreed to engage a mediator, former U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen, who was invited into the settlement negotiations in October and assisted in reaching the proposed agreement.
The case arose in 2014 when Salaita, a former Virginia Tech university professor, had a pending faculty job offer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and posted on social media several controversial statements concerning conflicts in the Middle East. The University exercised its option not to hire Salaita, and he sued alleging breach of contract and violation of free speech. The University was represented by the law firm Perkins Coie.
The University’s position from the outset had been that Salaita and his family should be compensated for the financial disruption they experienced.
The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.