DePaul uproar: despite unanimous support, professor who supported Finkelstein loses job; students continue protest

“Our jaws just dropped, hit the floor, when we saw the decision went the other way.”

–Michael A. McIntyre, director, DePaul’s program of international studies, in response to denial of tenure to Dr. Mehrene Larudee.

Following a highly unorthodox outside pressure campaign from media star and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has been engaged in a highly publicized grudge match with Norman Finkelstein for some years, the denial of tenure to two politically allied professors has sent DePaul into an uproar over academic freedom.

Angry students, charging the university with violating its own tenure process, immediately occupied university property in protest and have vowed to continue. On Wednesday, June 13, the university’s Faculty Council voted 27-3 “for an appeal to be made on behalf of both professors citing “violations of academic freedom” and procedural problems in the tenure process. ”

Inexplicably, a universally respected professor of international studies, Mehrene Larudee, who openly advocated for Finkelstein, was denied tenure, to the shock of her colleagues.

The Chronicle of Higher Education writes:

Another professor at DePaul University was rejected for tenure at the same time as Norman G. Finkelstein, and she believes her advocacy for the embattled political scientist may have derailed her career.

“There is no good explanation for why I was denied tenure,” Mehrene E. Larudee, an assistant professor of international studies, said in an interview on Monday. “So one has to look elsewhere.”

Praised as “outstanding” by the dean of her college and recommended unanimously by distinguished faculty peers during the tenure process, Ms. Larudee was 19 days away from becoming director of DePaul’s program in international studies when she learned on Friday of the decision against her.

She and the program’s current director, Michael A. McIntyre, had been discussing the responsibilities she would be assuming when he received, via e-mail, a letter from DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider.

“Hey, this is great, I’ll get to congratulate Mehrene right now,” Mr. McIntyre recalls thinking, until he read the letter. “Our jaws just dropped, hit the floor, when we saw the decision went the other way,” he said.

Dr. Larudee has promised to fight to overturn the decision. For now, there seem to be plenty of faculty, alum and students willing to back her in that fight. (Larudee is a member of the Chicago chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.)

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