Students who staged a sit-in this month at DePaul University on behalf of two professors denied tenure said today they would begin a fast this afternoon to bring renewed attention to their cause. During two weeks of protest, the students have demanded that the university grant tenure to Norman G. Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science, and Mehrene A. Larudee, an assistant professor of international studies.
On Friday the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors sent a letter to the university’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, echoing the students’ demands. In the two-page letter, Leo Welch, the chapter’s president, says the decision to deny tenure to the two assistant professors violated both the association’s standards and those of DePaul’s own Faculty Handbook.
Mr. Finkelstein’s alleged lack of “collegiality” appears to have been the “sole basis” for denying him tenure, Mr. Welch writes. “It is entirely illegitimate for a university to deny tenure to a professor out of fear that his published research … might hurt a college’s reputation,” he says. The association has explicitly rejected collegiality as an appropriate criterion for evaluating faculty members, and has criticized it as “ensuring homogeneity” and undermining the leadership role of colleges and universities, according to the letter. —Sierra Millman