In response to numerous inquiries, DePaul University confirms that it informed Professor Norman Finkelstein on June 8 that Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., DePaul president, upheld a recommendation by the University Board on Promotion and Tenure (UBPT) – the final stage in the faculty review process – to deny his application for tenure and promotion.
Granting tenure equates to a guarantee of lifetime employment, and the same standards are applied to all faculty members under consideration. In every case, the final decision is one of balancing the various arguments for and against tenure. The tenure process, which is detailed in DePaul’s Faculty Handbook, involves a rigorous review of each applicant’s scholarship, service and teaching, with the recommendations at each level forwarded up to the next level for consideration. It is an evaluation of faculty by faculty.
In Professor Finkelstein’s case, a faculty committee of the Department of Political Science voted in favor of tenure, submitting statements for the majority and minority, with a response from the majority. The Personnel Committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences then voted to support tenure and promotion, with reservations that it asked the college dean to note in his report. Subsequently, the college’s dean issued a written opinion against tenure. The UBPT also voted against tenure. The UBPT report and the materials from the lower committees were forwarded to the president for review. As in all cases of tenure, the final decision was made by the president.
Fr. Holtschneider said, “According to DePaul’s Faculty Handbook, the president can overturn the UBPT’s recommendation in rare circumstances and for compelling reasons. I find no compelling reasons here to overturn the UBPT’s decision.”
Fr. Holtschneider continued, “Over the past several months, there has been considerable outside interest and public debate concerning this decision. This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the outcome of this case.”
He added, “Some will consider this decision in the context of academic freedom. In fact, academic freedom is alive and well at DePaul. It is guaranteed both as an integral part of the university’s scholarly and religious heritage, and as an essential condition of effective inquiry and instruction. On a daily basis, DePaul faculty and students explore the most important ideas of our time, including difficult and contentious issues, and they do so in ways that adhere to professional standards of academia and respect the dignity and worth of each individual.”