Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finkelstein Denied Terminal Year

There's a long-standing academic rule: if you're denied tenure, you get a terminal year of teaching at the institution. Not at DePaul University, where reports that Norman Finkelstein's classes in the fall have been cancelled and he is being denied his terminal year at DePaul. Finkelstein has more info about it here. Finkelstein is also being denied office space.

The AAUP's fundamental 1940 statement on tenure and academic freedom requires all institutions to provide a terminal year to any faculty denied tenure. If anyone doubted whether DePaul was violating Finkelstein's rights, that doubt must end with this decision.

It's not altogether clear whether Finkelstein will be paid his salary. However, that is not the entire issue. Even if DePaul pays off Finkelstein, it is violating his academic freedom (and the freedom of its students) by refusing to let him teach and effectively silencing his voice in its classrooms. That would make it a suspension with pay--and you can't suspend a professor, even with pay, when you have no reason for doing so and no due process is followed.

UPDATE: reports on Finkelstein's suspension, and indicates that it is with pay. One of the comments on my blog asks why DePaul is required to let Finkelstein teach. Here's the answer: The AAUP’s 1940 Statement requires that if a scholar is denied tenure, “the appointment for the following year becomes a terminal one.” This teaching appointment must include all of the relevant privileges of a faculty member–-not merely being paid, but also having office space and the right to teach classes as normally expected. Otherwise, it is considered a dismissal for cause. The AAUP’s 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings declares: “a hearing will be conducted by a faculty committee at a specified time and place to determine whether he or she should be removed from the faculty position on the grounds stated.” Suspension with pay is only permitted in extraordinary circumstances in advance of a dismissal hearing: “Suspension of the faculty member during the proceedings is justified only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by the faculty member’s continuance.” DePaul appears to have failed to follow any of this required due process. And since DePaul made absolutely no objections to Finkelstein’s teaching, immediate suspension from his classes is completely unjustified.

Finkelstein will be part of an event on academic freedom at the University of Chicago this fall.

In Defense of Academic Freedom
October 12, 2007
2:20pm -7:10pm
Rockefeller Chapel
University of Chicago
Part 1
Event Commence Time: 2:20 pm
Event Closing Time: 5:00 pm
Chair: Tariq Ali, Verso Inc.
1. Dr. Akeel Bilgrami
Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
2. Dr. Noam Chomsky (Invited)
Institute Professor and Professor of linguistics (Emeritus), MIT
3. Dr. Tony Judt
Director, Remarque Institute, New York University
4. Dr. John J. Mearsheimer
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor, Dept of Political Science, U Chicago
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Tariq Ali (will lead the discussion panel) with Q&A

Break and Book Signing
Part 2
Start Time: 5:10pm
End Time : 7:10 pm
Moderator: Tariq Ali
Speaker: Dr. Norman Finkelstein; Dr. Mehrene Larudee,
Neve Gordon (Ben-Gurion University)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Can you please provide clarification on your position that Norman Finkelstein MUST be allowed to teach during his terminal year? I have looked at the AAUP statement that you cite in your comments, and I can not find a REQUIREMENT that a person is such a position be allowed to teach. It is clear that they must be paid for the terminal year, but the institution does not seem to be required by law to allow them to teach.

I clipped the following from the policy that your link points to:
"Teachers on continuous appointment who are dismissed for reasons not involving moral turpitude should receive their salaries for at least a year from the date of notification of dismissal whether or not they are continued in their duties at the institution."

This statement would seem to imply that allowing the faculty member to continue in their duties is the option of the institution. Don't misunderstand me - I beleieve that DePaul's decision to relieve him of his duties is wrongheaded. But it appears to me that it does NOT violate the terminal year "agreement".

If you have