The American Association of University Professors is requesting an immediate reinstatement of Norman Finkelstein who has been subjected to a suspension during his terminal year. A.A.U.P. has cited previous actions in which compensation alone does not justify the removal of a faculty member from a classroom. Note the A.A.U.P. intends to call DePaul President The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. tomorrow. The waters are rising at DePaul and the institution should be wary of a possible Committee A investigation that could lead to censure. I am pleased that A.A.U.P. is demonstrating resolve in a timely manner as this persecution of Dr Finkelstein continues to unfold. This is at least the third communication between A.A.U.P. and DePaul in recent weeks. The first two were critical of DePaul’s administration denying that professors who did not receive tenure were able to appeal internally the decision.
A suspension that is not followed by reinstatement or preceded by an adversarial proceeding is a summary dismissal. That is in violation of the “1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings.”
VIA FACSIMILE (312-362-XXXX)
The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
1 East Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604-2287
Dear President Holtschneider:
We have written to you twice regarding the issue of academic due process attendant upon the DePaul University administration’s refusal to recognize Professor Norman Finkelstein’s right to appeal the decision to deny him tenure to a faculty committee. We are writing to you again about a new issue of due process in his case in connection with an e-mail message on Friday, August 24, from Provost Helmut Epp to Professor Finkelstein, notifying him of the administration’s decision to place him on paid administrative leave, relieving him of further academic duties during his terminal year of service. (We understand that he is also being denied access to the office he had occupied.) According to the provost’s message, the action removing Professor Finkelstein from further teaching was taken “based on departmental and college needs and because of [his] behavior at the end of the Spring quarter.” Professor Finkelstein informs us that he takes sharp issue with the stated grounds for the action and objects to the lack of any procedural protections afforded to him.
Action to separate a faculty member from ongoing academic responsibilities prior to demonstration of stated cause in an appropriate proceeding is considered to be a suspension, which is justified, according to the enclosed joint 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, “only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by continuance.” According to Interpretive Comment Number 9 on the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, “a suspension which is not followed by either reinstatement or the opportunity for a hearing is a summary dismissal in violation of academic due process.” We note that the “Separation” section of the DePaul Faculty Handbook (p. 13) provides for suspension to be imposed on a faculty member “only to prevent probable and serious harm to the reputation of the University or to its ability to carry out such important functions as instruction. The faculty member is guaranteed that fair and consistent procedures will be used for making any suspension decision.” The policy goes on to describe three ways in which a faculty member may be suspended, the first two of which involve a formal hearing before a faculty body. Paragraph (3) of that section provides that a faculty member may be suspended without a hearing “in the event of an emergency where potentially serious harm must be prevented immediately and there is no opportunity for a previous hearing,” with the right of the affected professor “after the fact to a formal grievance hearing.” We are not aware of any “emergency” reason advanced by the administration that would justify acting against Professor Finkelstein without having first afforded him opportunity for a hearing.
We have taken strong issue with the argument, which we encounter from time to time, that an administration discharges its obligation to a faculty member on term appointment by relieving the individual of his or her teaching duties while continuing payment of salary for the duration of the term. In our report on the 1965 cases at St. John’s University in New York, where terminal suspensions were imposed on twenty-one professors because of alleged activities variously described as harassment and unprofessional conduct, our investigating committee found that the administration “had excluded from consideration a principle crucial to the profession.” The committee went on to explain as follows:
The profession’s entire case for academic freedom and its attendant standards is predicated upon the basic right to employ one’s professional skills in practice, a right, in the case of the teaching profession, which is exercised not in private practice but through institutions. To deny a faculty member this opportunity without adequate cause, regardless of monetary compensation, is to deny him his basic professional rights. . . . In the case of teachers at St. John’s, denial of their classroom was, in itself, a serious injury. To inflict such injury without due process and, therefore, without demonstrated reason, destroys the academic character of the University. (AAUP Bulletin, Spring 1966, pp. 18, 19.)
We addressed the issue of suspension of a nonreappointed probationary faculty member and the attendant standards of academic due process in the enclosed 1996 report on our investigation of a case at the University of Southern California. We urge that the administration reinstate Professor Finkelstein to his normal academic duties. If the administration is unwilling to do so, we urge that it initiate a hearing before an elected faculty body and assume the burden of demonstrating, in an adjudicative hearing of record, adequacy of cause for the suspension.
I plan on calling you tomorrow to discuss the contents of this letter, at which point we would welcome your comments on the statements and recommendations we have made.
B. Robert Kreiser
Enclosure (via surface mail)
Dr. Helmut P. Epp, Provost
Jose D. Padilla, Esq., Vice President and General Counsel
Dr. Charles S. Suchar, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor Anne Clark Bartlett, President, Faculty Council
Professor Gil Gott, Chair, Faculty Governance Council, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor Michael A. McIntyre, President, AAUP Chapter
Professor Michael L. Budde, Chair, Department of Political Science
Professor Norman G. Finkelstein
This document appears on Professor Finkelstein’s website.