In another month, fall classes will begin at DePaul University in Chicago, which was irrevocably changed on June 8th, when President Dennis Holtschneider upheld the UPTB tenure denials of Norman G. Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee. Readers will remember that Finkelstein was denied tenure, at least according to Holtscheider, because “In the opinion of those opposing your tenure, your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from the consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration” and, quoting the UPTB, “Some might interpret parts of your scholarship as ‘deliberately hurtful’ as well as provocative more for inflammatory effect than to carefully critique or challenge accepted assumptions.” Many are still wondering to whom this “Some” refers. These lines read as if they were written by a public relations firm.
The stated reason for Larudee’s denial was because of “teaching evaluations, sometimes below the departmental mean, thin record of scholarship.” Someone might have told Dennis that it might be good idea to proofread a tenure-denial letter before sending it out to the recipient. In this case, Dennis might have been wise to place an “and” before “thin record of scholarship.” If the main sentence, explaining the tenure denial, doesn’t even scan grammatically, one is left to wonder how much thought Holtschneider put into the denial itself. Larudee’s letter was less than one page. Marty Pertez, the New Republic Editor, couldn’t have come up with better sentences explaining these bad-faith denials. I’m sure the ADL office in Boston and the AIPAC office in Washington got a hearty chuckle from these sentences’ generality, as well as their “fuck you” quality.
DePaul’s heroic students have dedicated their summer to pulling together the resources and the people to hold an academic freedom conference in Chicago in October. Their bravery and persistence should be praised by the American public. DePaul’s administration, while perhaps hoping the outrage will die down over the summer, fears the convening of such a conference, much less the mere mention of “academic freedom at DePaul.” The Faculty Governance Council has posted a letter, calling for an investigation of the Finkelstein and Larudee tenure denials, as well as of the denial of promotion to full professor for all five of the LA&S associate professors who applied for promotion this year. These types of tenure and promotion denials are unprecedented in DePaul’s history. To date, only forty-four out of two hundred and fifty tenured faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have signed the letter. According to one Associate Dean in LA&S, who opposed the circulation of the letter, those who have expressed concern about this year’s denials have done so because they are “invested in the Finkelstein and Larudee cases.” Oh for sure. I guess we know what it takes to become an Associate Dean at DePaul these days.
One of the four associate professors denied tenure was one Alex Papadapulus who is on the Faculty Governance Counsel. Papadapulus, it is reported, signed the letter that DePaul’s Faculty Governance Council wrote last fall to Harvard’s administration, which requested that Harvard’s leadership intervene to prevent Alan Dershowitz from continuing to interfere in Finkelstein’s tenure case. One can’t help but think that Dershowitz saw that letter, noted Papadapulus’s name and sought a little payback against someone with whom he had no public dispute. In addition, all four of these associate professors had received Suchar’s enthusiastic promotion to full professor. I suspect, in the future, DePaul faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences will be a little circumspect the next time Suchar tells them “Everything is in order.” Was DePaul’s Board of Trustees, through Dershowitz, trying to send the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences a message? Oh for sure…
Oh, for sure…. DePaul University’s administration is now alleging that Norman Finkelstein poses an imminent danger to faculty and administrators on the Lincoln Park campus in Chicago. What is Finkelstein’s “crime” according to DePaul’s commissars? Well, he sought to confront the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, one “Chuck” Suchar, and a couple of the authors of the minority report, senior men in DePaul’s political science department, who alleged that Finkelstein is more a brawler than a scholar, engages in highly personalized attacks against political opponents, and could — if tenured — pose a threat to any DePaul faculty member or administrator who says “no” to him. This is the first time that I have ever heard of someone’s possible post-tenure behavior being scrutinized. “Let me tell you what Norman Finkelstein might be capable of doing if he gets tenure.” Some much for Vincentian personalism. Oh for sure….
This minority report, as many who have read Kim Petersen’s excellent analysis will remember, laid the ground for Finkelstein’s tenure denial by DePaul’s University Promotion and Tenure Board and President Dennis Holtschneider. Well, it appears that Finkelstein had a téte â téte of sorts with Dean Suchar outside of 990 West Fullerton on June 14 th after a College-wide discussion of the Finkelstein and Larudee cases, where Suchar purportedly claimed that he could not reveal the real reasons as to why he ignored a 9-3 political science department vote and a unanimous College personnel committee vote in Finkelstein’s favor, choosing instead to come up with an unprecedented reason for the denial: Finkelstein’s scholarship did not demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of political opponents. Who were these opponents? Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Goldhagen, Jerzy Kozinski, and Elie Wiesel. Indeed, it’s reported that the real reason as to Finkelstein’s tenure denial has to remain confidential. I believe that’s called invoking the “secret evidence” clause, which is something we might expect from the Bush administration, but certainly not from a Dean who trumpeted on and on about Vincentian personalism in his March 22nd memo.
As it turns out, 990 West Fullerton (just off of Sheffield and Fullerton for those of you who know the Lincoln Park areas) is where the Dean of Liberal Arts has his office on the fourth floor. I’m told that the political science and international studies departments are all housed within relatively close proximity to the Dean’s Office in this building — something I’m sure “Chuck” Suchar is quite happy about these days.
After the shocking June 8th tenure denials came down, many faculty at DePaul were outraged that the “voice” of the faculty had been ignored, which led to a couple of emergency meetings the following week where administrators who took part in the Finkelstein and Larudee cases could field questions and attempt to address inconsistencies and discrepancies, of which there were apparently plenty.
Well, if you look at the pictures of Suchar and Finkelstein going at it inside 990 West Fullerton, you can’t help but notice that Suchar is a large man who hasn’t missed many meals in recent years. Finkelstein, on the other hand, is quite trim and has just been fired from his job, largely because of Suchar’s memo, undoubtedly conditioned by Alan Dershowit’s blitzkrieg against Finkeltstein getting tenure throughout this past year at DePaul. Given all this, one might be prone to giving Finkelstein a little room to express his anger toward this Dean, who apparently has yet to show any indication that he has actually read any of Finkelstein’s work.
After all, who puts the Israeli New Historian, Benny Morris, is the same company as Elie Wiesel, Jerzy Kozinski, and Daniel Goldhagen? Morris is a serious historian. Wiesel, Kozinski, and Goldhagen are huckster and hoaxers, not as Suchar would have it, “huxters and hoaxters”.
It’s a wonder Suchar didn’t throw NYU Law Professor Burt Neuborne in for good measure, as Neuborne is one of Finkelstein’s favorite Holocaust hucksters. Readers of Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry: The Exploitation of Jewish Suffering will remember that Neuborne charged over 4 million dollars for his “legal services” in the double-shakedown of the Swiss in 1996-2000. Strangely, Dershowitz alleged that Finkelstein tried to get Neuborne disbarred from the NY state bar, a charge that was disproven by Frank Menetrez in his “Dershowitz versus Finkelstein: Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong.” Who could have known that Norm Finkelstein had this kind of political clout? Disbarring Holocaust hucksters in New York? Oh for sure….
Well, it’s been quite an interesting few years for Norman Finkelstein at DePaul University. In the span of just the last two years, he has exposed a senior Harvard Law Professor as a hideous fraud on the Israel-Palestine conflict, drove three senior professors in his own department to the brink of desperation in their attempts to derail his tenure case, threw the DePaul General Counsel’s Office into a tizzy as it strategized on how to subvert academic freedom “within the law,” and confronted a cowardly Dean outside of the office for his role in Finkelstein’s firing. Oh for sure… Norm’s a real menace to society because of these “antics”?
How could anyone at DePaul, or elsewhere, not want Norm Finkelstein as a colleague — and a tenured one at that?