Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Finkelstein Bites the Dust

The Chronicle: DePaul U. Turns Norman Finkelstein Down for Tenure:

Norman G. Finkelstein, the controversial political scientist who has been engaged in a public battle for tenure at DePaul University, learned on Friday that he had lost that fight. In a written statement, the university confirmed that Mr. Finkelstein had been denied tenure.

Mr. Finkelstein has inspired heated debate with his writings and commentary on such highly charged topics as the Israel-Palestine conflict and what he has termed "the Holocaust industry," and has sparred publicly over such issues with Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard University. Last fall, Mr. Dershowitz sent members of DePaul's law and political-science faculties what he described as "a dossier of Norman Finkelstein's most egregious academic sins, and especially his outright lies, misquotations, and distortions"....

In the letter, Father Holtschneider quotes extensively from the report of the university's tenure-and-promotion board, which describes Mr. Finkelstein as 'a nationally known scholar and public intellectual, considered provocative, challenging, and intellectually interesting,' and then comments that Mr. Finkelstein's dossier 'reveals some division of opinion as to the soundness of some of his scholarship.'

Father Holtschneider's letter dwells on allegations that Mr. Finkelstein engaged in 'ad hominem attacks' on scholars with opposing views. 'In the opinion of those opposing tenure,' the university president writes, 'your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration.'

The president goes on to invoke the American Association of University Professors and its standards of scholarly conduct, as well as standards articulated in the DePaul Faculty Handbook.

'On the record before me, I cannot in good faith conclude that you honor' those collegial obligations, Father Holtschneider told Mr. Finkelstein in the letter. 'Nor can I conclude that your scholarship honors our university's commitment to creating an environment in which all persons engaged in research and learning exercise academic freedom and respect it in others."

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