Another abrupt change in leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was announced this Monday. Provost Ilesanmi Adesida will step down from his post as of August 31. Adesida’s departure follows that of Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise, who resigned in early August.
Both Adesida and Wise were embroiled in a public controversy surrounding the university’s decision to withdraw a job offer to Dr. Steven Salaita in the summer of 2014, after Salaita posted a series of contentious tweets about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict that received widespread media attention.
The university publicly maintained that Salaita had not been officially hired at the time of the withdrawal of the job offer, while Salaita argued that he had been fired. Private emails that were obtained and published via the Illinois FOIA later indicated that top administrators considered Salaita’s hiring to be final. The emails also revealed that some members of the board of trustees put pressure on the administration to fire Salaita.
According to the Associated Press, Adesida said that “current controversies are causing distraction to the administration and the student body, and I do not want to contribute to those distractions,” in an emailed statement on Monday.
Acting Chancellor Barbara J. Wilson wrote in an email circulated among the faculty and staff on Monday, “Ade has left a permanent and positive mark on this university. He has my respect and gratitude. Replacing him will be no easy task.” She added that she will be consulting with campus leaders, the Council of Deans, and members of the Senate Executive Committee over the next few days during the search for an interim Provost.
Adesida will retain his faculty position in the College of Engineering.
Staff writer Catherine Morris can be reached at [email protected].