Bad-Faith Summer at DePaul: Is This What Happens When an Institution Loses Its Way?

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?

Bill Williams is an independent writer who lives in Toledo, Ohio. He can be reached at Read other articles by Bill, or visit Bill's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on August 6th, 2007 at 8:38am #

    “How could anyone at DePaul, or elsewhere, not want Norm Finkelstein as a colleague? ” Very simple! DePaul is a Catholic university and Professor Finkelstein is not a Catholic. That’s all there is to it! The rest is bullshit. You could perhaps fault Father Holtschneider for trying, no doubt with the best of intentions, to pander to the bullshit, but nothing more!

    The Catholic Church is not a democracy and if you teach or study in a Catholic university, you need to bear that in mind. The only “freedom” is the freedom to advance the interests of the Church. That’s a very broad concept which goes out very far to both the right and the left but it is not unlimited. What interest of the Church could possibly be served by getting into a fight with the Israel Lobby?

  2. Bill Williams said on August 6th, 2007 at 9:06am #

    So, only Catholics can get tenure at DePaul University? If Norman Finkelstein had become Catholic, would that have helped his chances?


  3. DEB-Z said on August 6th, 2007 at 10:55am #

    I find this “Catholic” excuse a laugh and the writer must not be informed about what has been taking place at DePaul and not reading information
    concerning the influence of the Jewish Lobby on DePaul’s board.
    I find this, as a parent of a senior high school student, shocking.
    As a parent of a senior I am asking questions and exploring issues during this college process that I never imagined.
    I have lost total respect for Harvard and the type of faculty they retain despite the bullying that a certain individual does there. Perhaps they accept this behavior and are also controlled by the Jewish Lobby.
    I find DePaul and Harvard’s acceptance of bullying and their restriction on instructors investigations into world conflicts no different than bullying of students in elementry schools. It just continues only in different ways as adults.
    DePaul and Harvard should be observed for special interest groups running their campuses, as well as other colleges that our children are
    attending. I do not want my children taught by bullies who think their
    race, religion, or special interest country is superior to another persons. I am a citizen of the USA and not of another country and I do not think that Israel is part of the USA as an extra state.
    People like this creat wars and foster hate of groups through out history
    and again this has nothing to do with the Catholic Church. This is about
    the Jewish Lobby and their control over Catholic University professors.
    I do not understand this and do not understand why the President of DePaul allowed himself to be bullied and then passed it on instead of standing up for his professors!!! Again this is NOT a CATHOLIC issue
    study all of the history of DePaul’s board of directors in relation to
    Dershowitz….then tell us about DePaul being Catholic!!!

  4. Wes S said on August 6th, 2007 at 4:02pm #

    Worse than communism, if you ask me.

  5. disgruntled goat said on August 6th, 2007 at 5:29pm #

    say, isn’t “minority report” that book/movie where people are punished for future crimes?

  6. Bill Williams said on August 6th, 2007 at 9:44pm #

    Amen, Deb-Z! You hit it head-on!


  7. DEB-Z said on August 7th, 2007 at 6:19pm #

    Thank you BW for an interesting and thought provoking article….

    I have been following this story very closely due to the severe consequences that limited education presents and the apparent intimidation that appears almost communist in nature taking place
    at DePaul.
    The loss of the freedom to research cultures and hostilities in this world by powerful groups or individuals is horrific. So is forcing our students to be spoon fed information without being able to question the authenticity of the source.
    It appears this is being lead, at DePaul University, by a powerful Jewish Lobby and a professor from another institution (Harvard)…. which is outrageous !!!
    Being able to bully their way to the top, or control others by intimidation, is apparently alive, well, and acceptable at Harvard and DePaul…( I guess we as people do not learn from history!)
    If one does not question a strong and powerful group, and just accept what they say as fact, we will end up with our universities like our health care system!!!
    That will be a shame to all who allowed this to take place and did not speak out or stand up for the faculty at DePaul.
    (Powerful lobbies full of self interested people who only value their special interests; religions, races, and second homelands, where they have duel citizenship, are not the people who should be running our schools!!! They are also trying to get billions sent to Israel for increased arms sales to kill and mame more people.
    This all goes hand in hand with the attempted silencing of Professor Finkelstein and attempting to make President Carter appear incompetent as well, as Dershowitz ORCHISTRATED in both cases).
    USA people better wake up and not allow bullies to distract them from the facts and control our government and schools…
    We as people are getting less and less support in Washington
    and in the classrooms and lobbies are running our lives…
    Despite our paying huge tuitions and massive taxes (much for the special interests of these lobbies)!!!
    I am very concerned about the one sided news agencies and
    classrooms putting down other countries and religions!!!
    No wonder that so many countries and cultures do not respect
    the USA now and why we are so in dept as a nation….

  8. Bill Williams said on August 7th, 2007 at 8:54pm #

    Dear Deb-Z:

    I hope you will share your passionate views with President Holtschneider, Dean Elena Kagan, and the new president of Harvard.

    Best, BW

  9. Adam said on August 7th, 2007 at 11:18pm #

    The emperor wears no clothes!

    “… that’s diverting the conversation away from the consideration of ideas, and polarizing and simplifying conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration.”

  10. DEB-Z said on August 8th, 2007 at 5:28am #

    Perhaps you should be more clear….what consideration is being simplified…either you are free in research and conclusions or you
    are persicuted for presenting your work in books and teachings.
    However, you have to be aware of who is going after you and for what reason….Some people like to hide facts and bully and limit education:
    What happened to many European Jews during WW2?
    They knew they were not free and were being persicuted just for being Jewish, ask professor Norm Finkelstein, his parents were both Jewish and war victims.
    Protesting was just going on in Israel last week, by some of the remaining elderly survivors of the Halocaust, due to Israel not giving
    them adequate compensation from the funds that were obtained for
    them…Some were so poor that they could not even get enough food or dentures, etc!!!
    Are we not permitted to discuss, write about, or teach what is taking place in Israel, Palestine, etc. and US/world policy in relation to this?

  11. DEB-Z said on August 8th, 2007 at 5:50am #

    IN JUNE 2007 IN ISRAEL”. This was outside of the Prime Minister’s
    Office in Jerusalem.

  12. hp said on August 8th, 2007 at 3:58pm #

    Neither Alan Dershowitz nor Norman Finkelstein have one drop of semitic blood in their bodies. Anyone wish to discuss this and its implications on our modern doublespeak?

  13. Bill Williams said on August 8th, 2007 at 4:15pm #

    What do you mean, hp?

  14. hp said on August 8th, 2007 at 4:28pm #

    I mean that neither man, nor any of their relatives have any “right of return” to Israel, a place where neither has ever had an ancestor step foot. In short, they, like approx. 95% of all “Israelis” have no origins in the ME.
    This in turn translates into one of the biggest deceptions of all time; that they are Semites. They wield the anti-semite term like a pistol, when in fact Zionists like Dershowitz are the worst possible anti-semites themselves.
    Have you ever heard this discussed or even mentioned in any group setting, whether academic or public? Could you tell me what Alan Dershowitz’s reply may only be to this statement? True. That’s all.

  15. hp said on August 8th, 2007 at 4:32pm #

    I might also add, as another example of what I say, the practice of changing one’s name to reflect a ME sounding origin. As per David Gruen (Green) or as he is commonly know, David Ben Gurion. Not one drop of semitic blood in Mr. “Ben-Gurion’s” body either.

  16. Adam said on August 8th, 2007 at 5:00pm #

    DEB-Z said…

    “What happened to many European Jews during WW2?
    They knew they were not free and were being persicuted just for being Jewish…”

    The Palestinian Arabs were not the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

  17. hp said on August 8th, 2007 at 5:08pm #

    And neither were the non-Arab Persians, or Iranians.

  18. DEB-Z said on August 8th, 2007 at 6:30pm #

    I know…this is so sad…More and more families and cities displaced due to occupation…the European Jews did not learn anything about sympathetic attitudes after all they had to go through….Just pass on the
    abuse and take other’s lands….and keep everyone quiet who questions this!!!
    America and Europe did place the Jewish people, in my opinion,
    in the ME to get rid of them even after WW2. America was also
    against the Jewish population. Many were practicing Darwinism’s
    son’s theory on the fabrication of the superior race…
    The Germans were not the only ones desiring the superior race! We were forcefully sterilizing many people in the USA, England, etc…
    Whoever the “elite group of scientists” did not consider to be “perfect” even prior to Hitler’s Germany were sterilized.
    This issue was raised during the Neurinberg Trials…
    Now it is the Arabs and/or Muslims…(Thirty years ago it was the USSR)…People always have to put others down and as a result many people get rich by creating and starting wars and spreading propaganda….
    So many bombs, mines, WMD, etc… Many are getting rich
    manufacturing and supplying this entire industry…Just like the
    Holocaust Industry, Drug Industry, Insurance Industry, Slave Industry…Everyone is out to make money and all think their goals are just fine….I am sure much money will be diverted to Israel for weapons from the USA…
    However, who is really getting this money…Prob the same people who took the money from the Holocaust survivors in Israel…
    Just keept the money coming…and keep Norm and Jimmy from asking
    After all who understands the ME and who wants us to be able to ask about and document the history….
    Keep us all ignorant and quiet….Do not ask questions and spoon feed us information….Just like DePaul!

  19. Bill Williams said on August 8th, 2007 at 10:57pm #

    Noam Chomsky frequently notes that, if Dershowitz isn’t an invention of the anti-Semites, they’re getting it for free. So, yes, Dershowitz is one of the biggest anti-Semites around. Dershowitz is incapable of hearing that he might be an anti-Semite.

  20. gerald spezio said on August 9th, 2007 at 6:23am #

    Bill, your excellent expose of the rampant outright fraud perpetrated against the genuine scholar, NormanFinkelstein has an added upgrade.
    I learned as much or even more from your direction to the Rubenstein peeyar website. The pat peeyar phrases about “PITCHING curveballs” are a lesson in themselves.

  21. Dissident Voice : Does Norman Finkelstein Constitute a Security Threat to DePaul University? said on August 27th, 2007 at 5:02am #

    […] administration, constitutes a security threat to DePaul faculty and staff. In a previous article, I documented that Finkelstein simply confronted Dean “Chuck” Suchar outside of 990 […]

  22. Richard Silverstein said on August 27th, 2007 at 6:23pm #

    Bill: I was wondering whether you actually have pictures of the confrontation you describe. I’m blogging about this & would like to know if there is a visual documentary account of the “meeting” I could use. And has the DePaul Administration releasesed any statement explaining/defending its actions??

  23. Asher Yosef said on December 19th, 2007 at 6:41am #

    Elie Wiesel huckster?

    But where you lie the worst is about the shakedown of Swiss banks. Jews put money in Switzerland, then they were murdered by Nazi Germany – then the banks stole their money. That’s what you stand for! Since you love so much tyhe banks, may the same happen to you personally and your family.

    I very much doubt you will have the guts to publish my comment. Most of what you can do is to say, as you so often do, “oh for sure…”