Developing Story: Norman Finkelstein Denied Tenure at Chicago’s DePaul University

I have learned that Norman G. Finkelstein on June 8, 2007 has been denied tenure at DePaul University. Professor Finkelstein, assistant professor of political science, had been recommended for tenure by his department and by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences personnel commitee. According to A.A.U.P. guidelines, Dr Finkelstein will be given a year’s notice and so can return under contract to DePaul for the 2007-2008 academic year. A professor may appeal a tenure denial and seek A.A.U.P. support. My hope is such will be the case and that there will be a Committee A investigation which could lead to a censure of DePaul University. This is speculation and is not a prediction of future course of events.

Professor Finkelstein, author of Beyond Chutzpah

The president of DePaul, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., has released a four-page statement according to sources.

As this blog and others have chronicled, the main public opponent of Professor Finkelstein’s application for tenure was Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard.

Dean Suchar as revealed here, reversed the findings of the majority of the Political Science Department and his own College’s Personnel Committee.

While I have not seen the statement, I am in a position to confirm the outcome:

A) I am concerned that an elite university, such as Harvard, can be used as a redoubt by Mr Dershowitz to destroy possibly a person’s academic career out of rage over sustained criticism of one’s work.
B) I am concerned that DePaul may be too concerned about public relations and eschew the greater good in failling to affirm principle and for acknowledging normal faculty peer review primacy.
C) I am concerned about the broader implications for free speech in America in which critics of Israel, even sons of holocaust survivors, may be cashiered due to external forces who wish to silence dissent and debate within the academy if not the nation at large.
D) I am concerned about the future of Norman Finkelstein, whom I have not yet met and have not communicated with directly over his application for promotion and tenure
E) I am concerned that Professor Dershowitz may feel vindicated and empowered to turn his animosity and savage treatment of a fellow academician on to others in the academy. He may indeed attempt to cajole or bully other institutions, without the resources and financial independence of Harvard, into making personnel decisions that contravene, in my estimation, due process and the very essence of supporting academic freedom in this country.

I am deeply saddened and moved by this. I have been through the fire and am not afraid to fight for what I believe in. Yet I feel right now a sense of concern that the values that so many of us hold dear and are committed to are in peril. The powerful in academia should acknowledge they serve the public and their STUDENTS, not themselves.

For those who wish to consult a rather extensive source of materials on this case with its now egregious outcome, kindly consult my archive.

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