It is heartening to know that intrepid DePaul University faculty who stand up for their colleagues’ rights in tenure and promotion cases are quite adroit in publicising their complaints. One of my comments at the press conference yesterday was that I thought the solidarity of DePaul faculty in organising press conferences and utilising them so effectively should be a model for the Chicagoland area if not beyond. It is rare that a faculty has developed such skills in reaching the broader public in areas concerning academic freedom, tenure and due process.
It should also be mentioned that students either spoke or attended the press conference as well. Ironically, students have a greater power than their professors sometimes in supporting faculty rights and grievances. They pay the freight; they are, except for the heavily endowed institutions, a major source of income and sustenance for a university. Administrations should indeed heed their call for retaining much less promoting and granting tenure to such outstanding professors as Dr Namita Goswami. It was noted by others she won the coveted College of Liberal Arts and Sciences teaching excellence award. It is a disconnect that a professor with this apparent level of pedagogical skill was not considered by certain ideologues as an extraordinary resource for the institution. I could not help but note wryly that the Department of Philosophy appropriately grants graduate students and undergraduate students voting rights in tenure cases. The data I saw was uniformly positive and yet it seemed to be utterly excluded from their assessment of her teaching. Hey, great teachers mean something! Let’s remember DePaul is not primarily a research university but a TEACHING institution. I have seen elsewhere too when great teachers are devalued and marginalised despite their skills. They should be considered a valuable resource and honoured for their work and capacity to transform the educational experience for students. Of course they need to establish their research and service credentials to be sure but as professors I think we are sometimes either jealous of or defensive about non-tenured faculty that are extremely effective and popular with students.
This is a link to the Chronicle of Higher Education blog. http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/faculty-members-ask-depaul-u-board-to-investigate-tenure-denials/28969
Faculty Members Ask DePaul U. Board to Investigate Tenure Denials
December 7, 2010, 10:47 pm
A number of professors at DePaul University are asking the institution’s Board of Trustees to investigate the reasons behind a string of recent failed tenure bids for minority faculty members, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. A group rallied on Tuesday on behalf of two of the six minority members who were denied tenure this year—Namita Goswami, an assistant professor of philosophy, and Quinetta Shelby, an assistant professor of chemistry. The two women appealed, and separate faculty committees ruled that each should have been granted tenure. In Ms. Goswami’s case, a committee also found that her academic freedom had been violated.
DePaul faced similar allegations last year, when rejected candidates accused the university of discrimination against women. Its tenure process also came under public scrutiny in 2007, in the case involving the controversial political scientist Norman Finkelstein.