Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Finkelstein and DePaul Reach Settlement

A few moments ago, Norman Finkelstein announced a settlement with DePaul in which Finkelstein agrees to resign his post immediately. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but Finkelstein seemed most concerned with a line in DePaul's statement declaring that Finkelstein is a "prolific scholar and outstanding teacher." Finkelstein said, "I felt that finally I had gotten what was my due." He declared that he is leaving with "my head up high, and my reputation intact," calling the settlement the "clearing of my name and reputation."

It appears that Finkelstein simply decided to give up the fight. Earlier, his first comments to his students were, "I do not at all relish the prospect of a confrontation with DePaul University." Later, he told the students, "I recognized from the end of last year...that the atmosphere had become so poisoned that it was virtually impossible for me to carry on at DePaul." Finkelstein told his supporters, "I went through some very bad days, which become weeks, and months, and then a year." According to Finkelstein, "There was only one thing that sustained me--the students of DePaul University." He concluded to the students, "I will never forget you. I am eternally in your debt."

In the dueling statements about the settlement, Finkelstein claimed, "I was denied tenure due to external pressures climaxing in a national hysteria that tainted the tenure process." DePaul, rather implausibly, claimed about the attacks on Finkelstein: "This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate. In the end, however, it had absolutely no impact on either the process or the final outcome."

Earlier in the day, Finkelstein arrived 20 minutes late for his class on DePaul's quad (he explained that he was partly delayed by the need to print out his notes, since he couldn't get into his office). But none of the 70 students, wearing "We Are All Professor Finkelstein" T-shirts, had left. Finkelstein talked about his case, giving a short lecture on liberty that ran from John Stuart Mill to Pete Seeger to the German folk song, "Thoughts are free." Finkelstein declared, "I do not support 'political correctness.' People have to be free to think what they want and speak their minds." Finkelstein called his experience an "unendurable and interminable nightmare" because of the "scurrilous attacks." Finkelstein claimed, "I showed almost superhuman restraint," he said, "to demonstrate how collegial I was."

Finkelstein was surprisingly sympathetic to the DePaul administrators: "I recognize that DePaul is in an almost impossible situation," facing false accusations of anti-Semitism. Finkelstein said that if he had been granted tenure, "I would be an albatross to for 20 years." Finkelstein expected to be denied tenure but, he says, "It should have been resolved in an honorable way" by DePaul being honest about the reasons. However, he said, "DePaul did not take the honorable route."

While Finkelstein went to negotiate with DePaul officials, the DePaul students marched around campus for a while, chanting, "We will resist, we won't back down, stop the witchhunt, tenure now!" and "academic freedom is our right, if you deny it, we will fight."

With five books published and top-notch teaching ratings, Finkelstein says, "It's preposterous to claim that I didn't earn tenure." Finkelstein claimed, rather preposterously, "I don't think my views are particularly controversial."

Finkelstein predicts that he won't get another job as a professor: "My prospects in academia are dim," he said, because colleges saw what DePaul experienced and "nobody wants to go through this hysteria."

Finkelstein did note that the settlement does not restrict him from criticizing DePaul's administration, which he hastened to do about the tenure denial of Mehrene Larudee. Finkelstein said, "Everybody knows that the denial of tenure to Mehrene Larudee was political." He added, "I hope the same outpouring of support...will be sustained until Mehrene Larudee gets her due...It was wrong, it was wrong, it was a thousand times wrong." Finkelstein predicted that Larudee's tenure denial "will remain an open wound at this university."

News reports on the settlement: Chicago Tribune.
Inside Higher Ed.

Video: Labor Beat: Professor Finkelstein's DePaul Farewell - a good summary
AFC: Student Protest March
AFC: Norman Finkelstein's Statement Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

The AAUP needs to continue this case, and launch an investigation into DePaul.
In recent years, the AAUP has tended to abandon cases where a settlement is made (which is why Finkelstein made a serious mistake settling this one). But this settlement is only related to Finkelstein's terminal year; his complaints about the tenure denial itself are still valid. And the ongoing Larudee tenure denial should give the AAUP more than enough reason to launch an investigation, which can (and should) include cases beyond Larudee's. By investigating DePaul's treatment of Larudee, Finkelstein, and Klocek all together, the AAUP would unify the complaints from both the left and the right about DePaul and the administration's violation of AAUP (and DePaul's own) standards in hiring and promotion.

1 comment:

John Wilson said...

DePaul has issued the statement of the university and Finkelstein in the case:
http://sherman.depaul.edu/media/webapp/mrNews2.asp?NID=1655&ln=true