DePaul, embattled professor settle dispute
As Finkelstein resigns, university calls him ‘an outstanding teacher’
- 12:40 PM CDT, September 5, 2007
The long-running confrontation between embattled professor Norman Finkelstein and DePaul University ended today without the dramatics he had promised.
Instead, he read a statement announcing his resignation this morning on the university’s main quadrangle before about 120 supporters announcing that he and DePaul had resolved the controversy. But the terms were kept confidential.
Finkelstein had vowed to present himself at his office door today and, if denied entrance, to perform an unspecified act of civil disobedience. He vowed to go on a hunger strike if he were jailed.
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Finkelstein, a scholar praised and damned for his strong criticisms of Israel, was denied tenure in June. However, his classes remained in the university’s course schedule until abruptly canceled a little more than a week before fall term classes began on the school’s Lincoln Park campus.
At that point, Finkelstein also was notified that he had been put on administrative leave for the 2007-08 school year. By long-standing academic tradition, a professor denied tenure is entitled to one last year in the classroom of his home university.
In July, Finkelstein’s own department of political science had recommended that the 53-year-old professor be put on “non-residential” leave. This was the outcome of allegations that Finkelstein had physically and verbally confronted university officials after his tenure denial.
Finkelstein read both his statement and DePaul’s today. No university official appeared.
In its statement, the university wrote: “Professor Finkelstein is a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.”
Generally, the standard for achieving tenure, academe’s equivalent of a life-time job, is scholarship, teaching and service to the institution.
The American Association of University Professors had previously complained to the university that Finkelstein’s summary discharge violated standards of academic freedom.
Although the settlement terms were not disclosed, Finkelstein reiterated his previous determination “to leave with my head unbowed, my reputation intact.”
A colorful demonstration for Finkelstein on campus this morning included representatives of the National Lawyers Guild, the Socialist Workers Party, the Revolutionary Communist League and Jewish Voice for Peace.
Finkelstein has been noted for his support of the Palestinian cause.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune