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A Brief Chronology of USF and the Al-Arian Case

  • 1958: USF founded; Al-Arian born in Kuwait (his family moved to Egypt in 1966).
  • 1960: USF opens its doors.
  • 1962-1964: The Florida Legislative Investigations Committee (FLIC) under State Senator Charley Johns disrupts USF faculty and staff in a search for alleged communists and homosexuals. USF responds by interfering in the faculty hiring process, terminating an instructor for using controversial course materials, etc.
  • 1964: The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) censures USF for violations of academic freedom during 1962-1964; the censure is lifted in 1967.
  • 1969: Florida public universities are organized into a State University System (SUS), under a single Board of Regents (BOR).
  • 1972: USF Faculty Senate founded.
  • 1975: Al-Arian comes to America & goes to Southern Illinois University.
  • 1976: United Faculty of Florida wins Collective Bargaining election for all SUS faculty: UFF now negotiates the contract with the BOR.
  • 1978: Al-Arian graduates from Southern Illinois, goes to North Carolina State University; he receives a PhD in computer engineering in 1985.
  • 1986: Al-Arian hired by USF Department of Computer Engineering; Mazen Al-Najjar moves to Tampa and enters USF's Industrial Engineering and Management program.
  • 1987: Al-Najjar's visa status complicated by marital strife and divorce.
  • 1987 - 1992: The Intifada. Many Palestinians in America, including Al-Arian, say inflammatory things.
  • 1988: Al-Arian forms the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), under an Islamic Concern Project (also ICP).
  • 1990: USF organizes a Committee on Middle Eastern Studies (COMES) as a new initiative in international affairs.
  • 1990 - 1991: The gulf war: the UN v. Iraq.
  • 1991: Professor Al-Arian helps found World Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) in Temple Terrace, just off USF main campus.
  • 1991: Ramadan Abdullah joins WISE staff.
  • 1991 - 1994: WISE publishes a journal and sponsors conferences.
  • 1992: Massive budget crunch affects USF severely; Al-Arian awarded tenure; USF and WISE begin formal relationship.
  • 1993: ICP shut down.
  • 1994: Al-Arian passes US citizenship exam, and his application is approved.
  • November, 1994: The PBS production of ``Jihad in America'' accuses Al-Arian of association with Islamic Jihad. This leads to many press and official investigations, the latter inconclusive and no charges filed.
  • February, 1995: FBI contacts USF about Al-Arian, Al-Najjar, and Abdullah.
  • May, 1995: The Tampa Tribune runs a series on WISE and USF; Abdullah leaves WISE, USF, and the USA.
  • June 2, 1995: USF suspends relations with WISE.
  • October, 1995: Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader and founder Fathi Shikaki is assassinated: his successor is Ramadan Abdullah, (now called Ramadan Shallah).
  • November, 1995: The FBI searches Al-Arian's house and office; WISE shut down.
  • January, 1996: Former American Bar Association head William Reece Smith, Jr., is retained by USF to investigate USF's relationship with WISE.
  • April, 1996: Al-Arian suspended with pay after FBI and INS investigate WISE; USF closed after a bomb threat.
  • May, 1996: W. R. Smith reports that the evidence does not support the Tampa Tribune's allegations; Al-Arian on paid leave.
  • May, 1997: Al-Najjar arrested on alleged visa violations, primarily based on secret evidence.
  • August, 1998: Al-Arian returns to classroom; the FBI and INS investigations have not, to date, resulted in any legal actions. Meanwhile, Florida Constitutional Revision # 8 passes, to strengthen the Florida governor and reform the cabinet.
  • 1998 - 1999: a sequence of squabbles between the Legislature and the Board of Regents.
  • 1999: Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Speaker John Thrasher plan a reorganization of the Florida State University System.
  • March, 2000: Judy Genshaft becomes president of USF.
  • May 2000: U.S. Disctrict Judge Joan Lenard rules that the use of secret evidence in Al-Najjar's case violated his rights. (In June, Amnesty International would call Al-Najjar a prisoner of conscience.) Also: the Florida affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers merged to form a Florida Education Association.
  • October, 2000: Judge McHugh concludes that, ``...there is evidence ... that WISE was a reputable and scholarly research center ...'' and orders Al-Najjar freed.
  • January, 2001: An Education Governance Reorganization Transition Task Force recommends replacing the BOR with Boards of Trustees, one for each university, reorganizing SUS out of existence. SUS Chancellor Adam Herbert resigns. This leads to a protracted fight, during which Florida Board of Education Chair Phil Handy says he is not out to ``bust'' UFF, but does say that UFF may require ``recertification'' (i.e., UFF may be in a fight for its life).
  • May, 2001: The reorganization of the Florida universities passes into law.
  • SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.
  • September 26, 2001: Al-Arian appears on Fox Network's The O'Reilly Factor, a talk show. O'Reilly makes a number of vague accusations against Al-Arian and USF in general.
  • September 27, 2001: After numerous complaints and threats arrive at USF, Al-Arian placed on paid leave.
  • December 19, 2001: The USF Board of Trustees vote to dismiss Al-Arian. Genshaft announces that Al-Arian to be dismissed.
  • January 9, 2002: The Faculty Senate refuses to support the dismissal.
  • January 11, 2002: The USF Chapter of UFF resolves to defend Al-Arian's rights.
  • Jan. 30, 2002: President Genshaft announces that she will decide whether to fire Al-Arian after talking to members of the community.
  • Mar. 8, 9, 10, 2002: A team sent by Committee A of the AAUP visits USF to investigate.
  • Mar. 20, 2002: John Loftus sues Al-Arian for fraud as customs agents raid Islamic organizations.
  • Aug. 21, 2002: USF sues Al-Arian, and announces its intention to fire him; but later, USF isn't so sure ...
  • Aug. 22, 2002: Al-Arian's brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar deported, ultimately to ???
  • Nov. 5, 2002: Amendment # 11 passes, organizing the State University System under a single Board of Governors.
  • Dec. 16, 2002: USF's suit against Al-Arian dismissed by a U.S. District court.
  • Jan. 6, 2003: Al-Arian files a grievance against USF, claiming that the involuntary leave was itself actionable.
  • Jan. 7, 2003: The Board of Governors appoints the USF Board, which assumes whatever powers it will assume; by many reckonings, the UFF/BOR contract expires, leaving the terms and conditions in dispute.
  • Feb. 20, 2003: Al-Arian is one of four people arrested in the United States by federal agents (some others are arrested overseas) on racketeering charges.
  • Feb. 26, 2003: USF fires Al-Arian.
See also the chronology on the official USF page.

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