Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Academic Freedom In Question

On Friday, August 25th Dr. Norman Finkelstein - who was recently denied tenure at DePaul University in Chicago - received this terse email from Dean Suchar:
Prof. Finkelstein - Professor Budde has informed me that you have asked for office space for your books. We do not have office space assigned to you for the coming academic year. I will look into whether we can make space available for you and either I or Professor Budde will get in touch with you next week with more information.

In the meantime, you will not have access to your old office space. To the extent that you left personal belongings in your old office space, we can discuss a plan for their return to you when I get in touch with you next week. You should not plan on moving into any office space tomorrow, as that option is not available to you.

I will contact you next week with more information.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Suchar
Professor and Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
DePaul University
Besides this, Dr. Finkelstein was placed on administrative leave for the academic year, effectively canceling his classes, one ironically entitled 'Freedom and Empowerment.' This because the controversy of his denial of tenure and class cancellations go to the heart of the academe; academic freedom.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) - wrote DePaul's president after it was announced that Dr. Finkelstein's classes would be canceled. The letter warned that the school's conduct toward the professor was not in accordance with general procedures usually afforded to professors. The (AAUP) already voiced concern over DePaul's denial to allow Dr. Finkelstein to appeal the tenure decision (which consequently held a majority (9-3) recommendation by the departmental tenure committee and a unanimous (5-0) recommendation by the Personnel Committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences though did not pass by marjority at the university committee level).

Most regretably, DePaul and Dr. Finkelstein will both lose face in this insipid and certainly uninspiring spectacle that bedazzles no one all while at the loss of academic freedom.

Further, DePaul in its debauched handling of the entire process has further strengthened Dr. Finkelstein's career thesis: that ultra-sensitive feelings towards Jews and specifically the state of Israel borne from Holocaust guilt has lead to the inability to criticize Israeli policy. DePaul has made him his own self-fulfilling prophecy.

I personally took classes from Dr. Finkelstein and it is a shame such a professor is asked to leave in such a manner. The sum of the academe is lessened by such a loss.

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