Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Norman Finkelstein resigns at DePaul

An statement was released by DePaul University regarding Professor Finkelstein's final status, including one from Finkelstein himself. (Courtesy of Jews Sans Frontieres)

Joint statement of Norman Finkelstein and DePaul University on their tenure controversy and its resolution

Norman Finkelstein and DePaul University issued the following statement today in connection with the resolution of their dispute over the University's denial of tenure to Professor Finkelstein. Except for this statement there will be no public comment regarding the resolution of our controversy or the terms of our agreement.

From Professor Finkelstein: I came to DePaul University in 2001 and was put on a tenure-track position in 2003. To get tenure I had to demonstrate a credible record as a teacher, scholar, and citizen of the university. During my six year stint at DePaul I consistently received among the highest student evaluations in my department. I have published five books to critical acclaim from leading scholars, and they have been translated into 46 foreign editions. I have been recognized as a public intellectual at many of the leading universities in the United States and Europe and have become an internationally recognized scholar in my academic specialties. Based on this record, I should have received tenure. Indeed, after extensive scrutiny of my academic credentials, my department voted overwhelmingly to tenure me as did the college-level tenure committee, which voted unanimously in my favor. The only inference that I can draw is that I was denied tenure due to external pressures climaxing in a national hysteria that tainted the tenure process. The outpouring of support for me after the tenure denial from among the most respected scholars in the world buttresses this conclusion.

Although DePaul's decision to deny me tenure was a bitter blow, I would be remiss in my responsibilities if I did not also acknowledge DePaul's honorable role of providing a scholarly haven for me the past six years. It is a fact, and I would want to acknowledge it, that the DePaul administration kept me on its faculty despite overwhelming external pressures. It is also a fact that my professional colleagues displayed rare rectitude in steadfastly supporting me. It is also a fact that DePaul students rose to dazzling spiritual heights in my defense that should be the envy of and an example for every university in the United States. I will miss them.

It is now time for me to move on and hopefully find new ways to fulfill my own mission in life of making this world a slightly better place on leaving it than when I entered it.

From DePaul: Today we have reached a resolution of our dispute with Professor Norman Finkelstein. As a part of that resolution he has agreed to resign effective immediately. With this issue behind us, we can once again turn our full attention and energy to discharging our most important duty: the education of DePaul students, who have placed in us their trust and faith.

Granting tenure is a guarantee of lifetime employment. DePaul's standards for tenure are demonstrated and sustainable excellence in teaching and scholarship as well as meaningful service to the University. Every DePaul faculty member seeking tenure is evaluated by the same standards: it is an evaluation of faculty conducted by

Throughout the tenure process, our faculty ensured that the established standards for tenure were their only consideration. Upon receiving the recommendations from the lower level faculty committees, the University Board on Promotion and Tenure - DePaul's highest academic committee - voted to deny Professor Finkelstein tenure, and the President of DePaul accepted that vote. We understand that Professor Finkelstein and his supporters disagree with the University Board on Promotion and Tenure's conclusion that he did not meet the requirements for tenure. The system is designed to give every applicant the same opportunity to achieve tenure, and has proven to be fair and effective. In every tenure case, the final decision is one of balancing the various arguments for and against tenure.

Professor Finkelstein has expressed the view that he should have been granted tenure and that third parties external to the University influenced DePaul in denying tenure. That is not so. Over the past several months, there has been considerable outside interest about the tenure decision. This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate. In the end, however, it had absolutely no impact on either the process or the final outcome.

Professor Finkelstein is a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher. The University thanks him for his contributions and service.

Both parties are satisfied with the resolution of their dispute and wish each other well in their future endeavors.

Media Contact: Denise Mattson, (312)362-6225

It is definitely a blow to acadamia throughout the United States over this tenure keffafle, and quite possibly is a warning to institutions north of the 49th parallel that being a proponent of Palestinian political rights, or an ardent critic of Israeli policies is one that could not only threaten your tenureship, but also even your job at a private institution. While it is sad to see Professor Finkelstein be the one on the losing end here, it is perhaps what is best for both parties to attempt to get this behind them and move on to what they do best: teach. There may have been no other outcome since the denial of tenure, as the pressure may have broken DePaul's Board. And despite all their gloss, "that third parties external to the University influenced DePaul in denying tenure" was untrue, I don't believe anyone following this case closely is buying the sophistry. Professor Finkelstein has powerful enemies, and they have not let this little "symoblic" gesture of granting tenure to Finkelstein slip by.

Even though Norman Finkelstein was very reluctant to grapple with the whole issue, his students and some professors at the University has stood beside him knowing that this decision is not one that should be taking lying down. And nor should it be: precedence is a scary thought when groundbreaking rules are set for the future to be molded into. Akin to the ghastly illegal escapades of pre-emptive wars that could be in the hands of what could be the lamest duck of Presidents, we have the freedom of academics being severely threatened now. Mossad and Khalidi can be a testament in the past; now Finkelstein is another one to be gunned down by the Lobby and Campus Watchers. In a world that is Israeli-centred, the only view tolerated is one that is to their liking, whether you are a scholar or not. Your job is on the line, so you better toe the line and be spat out into the unemployment line along with the rest of the lynched.

They may have won the battle, but if Walt and Mearsheimer continue to press the issue of the Lobby to be newsworthy and remain unwaivered in the challenges that has claimed so many before them, then maybe the bubble could be burst that begun last year thanks to former President Jimmy Carter. Finkelstein may have left, but the fight rages on, possibly even moreso thanks to the denial of his tenureship and his dismissal from DePaul. It is hard to imagine such a ruckus if Dershowitz and his ilk had left the process to DePaul itself but now they have only provided more overt evidence that they have power to be reckoned with.

"The least I could hope for is to leave DePaul with my head up high and my reputation intact." We can't say much about the Board at DePaul or those "external pressures" though.

No comments: