(Cross posted from The Faculty Lounge, with some additions and changes)
As reported by Inside Higher Ed, Assistant Professor Steve Cicala, an economist at the University of Chicago, has decided to boycott the University of Illinois over the trustees’ recent decision against hiring Prof. Steven Salaita. In a letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Cicala explained that he would not be presenting a previously scheduled talk at the university’s Chicago campus because she had failed to resist the “influence of donors on faculty speech.”
Perhaps because he is an economist, Cicala seems fixated on the presumed impact of money on Wise’s (and the trustees’) decision. He made nine references to donors, donations, contributions, or funds in his eight paragraph letter, although with no actual specifics. In support of his claim that Wise had simply caved in to financial pressure, Cicala linked to a packet of Wise’s emails that had been released pursuant to the Illinois FOIA.
Being a law professor rather than an economist, I thought I would take a look at the empirical evidence, instead of relying on assumptions or modeling.