The Salaita case and the Big Money takeover of universities

Responding to an academia-wide furore about the ‘firing’ of Steven Salaita over a series of provocative tweets on Israel and Gaza, the University of Illinois board of trustees recently voted eight to one to uphold the decision. This can be seen as a blow to the very concept of academic freedom, but there's another sinister undercurrent to the case: evidence that major donors put pressure on the board and the university administration to dump the professor, writes Michael Hiltzik for the Los Angeles Times.

If so, it wouldn't be the first time that donors have tried to manipulate university administrations into doing their bidding, but it's certainly one of the most disturbing examples of a bad trend. Even before the trustees' vote, emails became public showing that university leaders and administrators were inordinately responsive to donors unhappy with what they saw as Salaita's anti-Israel tweets.

As we reported earlier this summer, examples of this trend have been proliferating. In 2007, the Charles Koch Foundation offered Florida State University millions of dollars to set up a libertarian hive in its economics department, according to documents recently disclosed by the Center for Public Integrity.
Full report on the Los Angeles Times site