American U Beirut Defends Move to Call Off Search

June 1, 2016

In April, reports circulated that American University of Beirut blocked a search that was about to name Steven Salaita (right) as director of the Center for American Studies and Research. Salaita famously was on the verge of a tenured job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when administrators blocked him from taking the position. As at Illinois, supporters of Salaita speculated that he was denied the AUB position for political reasons, given his outspoken criticism of Israel.

On Tuesday, the AUB board chair issued a statement that it had investigated the search and that it had been called off for necessary reasons. "[T]he university has concluded, after thorough investigation, that there were numerous significant violations of University policies and procedures in connection with the search, and that resulted in a process that was not up to university standards of fairness and transparency," the statement said. "An important safeguard of academic freedom is the fair and consistent application of procedures designed to ensure fairness and transparency in the appointment of faculty members. Compliance with university procedures in this regard is designed to uphold this fundamental value."

The university declined to answer questions about what procedures had been violated. Salaita did not respond to a request for comment.


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