The DePaul Political Science Department’s Minority Report: The Finkelstein Tenure Case

Although Norman G. Finkelstein’s department recommended him for promotion and tenure by a vote of 9-3, there was a three-person minority report that came to a different conclusion. While this report has not been made public, one can assume it played a determinative role in the process. It was used by Dean Chuck Suchar in his memorandum as a major component of his recommendation against tenure. He virtually dismissed the majority report in his effort to remove Professor Finkelstein at the end of his probationary period.

These are the three political scientists who authored or signed the minority report:

Professor Patrick Callahan, a former department chair, voted with the three-person minority. Professor Callahan collaborated on this tenure case with Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, for several years. The two combined to disseminate Mr Dershowitz’s highly charged “j’accuse materials” which polemicised and needlessly allowed external public criticism to enter the process of evaluation. Although the Department Personnel Commttee and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences rejected the substance of these inflammatory charges against Dr Finkelstein, the minority report probably began the process of using collegiality and tone as a cover up for personal animus and/or censorship. Note the link to the Personnel Committee Report: Under “Background,” they describe Professor Callahan’s unusual role in the Dershowitz campaign without naming the former department chair.

Political Scientist Michael L. Mezey, who preceded Chuck Suchar as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul University, also supported the anti-tenure recommendation of the minority report. Full disclosure requires that I indicate I met Dr Mezey, when he was dean, in my office at St Xaxier University. He was serving as the external evaluator of the Department of History and Political Science as part of the assessment process. We spoke about academic freedom, appropriate departmental standards for tenure and what I described as the corruption of higher education–its conformity and lack of risk taking. There was no discussion of any DePaul University person or process.

Jim Block was the third professor who voted to deny tenure to Dr Finkelstein. Professor Block teaches political theory and political philosophy in the department.

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