There is nothing to gloat about or even be happy about. In fact, nothing has changed. Finkelstein will go around promoting his anti-Jewish-group and anti-Israel agendas. He just hasn’t been acknowledged as a scholar who deserves to be promoted by his university.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

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

Mr. Finkelstein’s department and a college-level personnel committee both voted in favor of tenure, but the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences wrote a memorandum against it, and the University Board on Promotion and Tenure voted against granting tenure. The final decision rested with the university’s president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, who said in the statement that he had found “no compelling reasons to overturn” the tenure board’s recommendation.

In the DePaul statement, Father Holtschneider decried the outside interest the case had generated. “This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the outcome of this case.”

About the author

themiddle

33 Comments

  • And how do you explain that Raul Hilberg supports this “evil” man?

    If I were Finkelstein, that one voice would balance hundreds, maybe thousands calling me “Fink-evil”.

  • Well, at least he won’t have the imprimatur of the university, though it was significant that his department wanted to give him tenure.

    What he will be able to do is present himself as a martyr to outside Jewish pressure, especially in the form of Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz says he was asked for his opinion by the university administration, but this point will certainly be overlooked in hard-left-wing publications and web sites.

  • He has already presented himself as a martyr and this is decidedly not a Jewish university – its President is a priest. More important is what the president said, “This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the outcome of this case.” This is a guess, but I think if anything, the committee put far more thought and consideration of this tenure application than most. Its rejection should be seen as highly appropriate.

    LeaNder, I don’t think of him as evil, although people with evil intent do make use of him. I actually find him to be not much of a thinker who seems to have some emotional issues. On a very raw level, he seems extraordinarily troubled. He also has put himself into a corner from an early point in his career and it’s not that surprising that he seeks to hammer away at the organizaed Jewish community and Israel. By the way, Finkelstein’s own mentor who had written a book on the same topic as the one Hilberg praises, rejects Finkelstein’s book and its scholarship quite harshly. I guess that negates Hilberg, if not hundreds or thousands of Hilbergs.

  • Nothing to gloat about?

    Au contraire, mon chere Le Midi. This is exactly the time to gloat. If not now, when?

    Finklestein was hoist on his own petard, his hatred of his own people. He will still be able to spew, but he won’t have the imprimature of a university to give credence to his garbage.

    I love the taste of shadenfreude in the morning.

    Regarding Hilberg, I don’t know what to say. As Middle said, Finklestein was repudiated by his own mentor. This speaks volumes.

    Even Jeremiah remonstrated with love. Finklestein just hates Jews, so far as I can tell.

  • I also beg to differ. The news is wonderful. Anything that serves to not legitimize Jew-hatred is a good thing.

  • Let Muffti pipe in here quickly. Having been around academia for a while, Muffti finds it exceedingly hard to believe that the fanfare around Finkie had nothing to do with the decision. For one thing, if the tenure committee admitted that it did, he would sue immeadiately, and on good grounds.

    Muffti isn’t sure how things work at DePaul, but typically it goes like this. Your department votes on whether to recommend you for tenure. They frequently send your file to external reviewers, typically some of them suggested by you. Then the dean and (in this case, the president) put in their recommendation and then the tenure committee of hte university votes.

    In fact, looking at depaul’s faculty handbook, Muffti sees no provision for external review at all.

    That means that the only people who are really qualified to judge your work (i.e. people who know something about your field, its standards etc.) are the members of your department. (Perhaps in the rare case where the dean is an ex member of your department, the dean as well).

    The tenure committee is always composed of people who largely are completely unqualified to judge your case based on academic merits. As the aforementioned handbook states: “notification the reasons for such a decision.

    The University Board on Faculty Promotion and Tenure shall be appointed by the Faculty Council and be comprised of seven (7) voting faculty members. The seven faculty members will be broadly representative of different areas of inquiry. Only tenured professors are eligible to serve as representatives of the board.

    That means that Muffti may one day be making decisions over whether or not people in health sciences get tenure. He is manifestly not qualified to do that.

    The reason most people get tenure is that your fellow faculty nearly almost vote for you unless they don’t want you around and think you are grossly unqualified, thereby bringing down the intellectual calibre of the department. For better or for worse, the good people of the depaul poli sci/history department didn’t vote it down.

    The Dean’s letter, furthermore, was indicative of the fact that he didn’t like Fink’s ‘tone’:

    I find it difficult to share their net assessment of Professor Finkelstein’s scholarly contributions. My own estimation of the tone and substance of his scholarship is that a considerable amount of it is inconsistent with DePaul’s Vincentian values, most particularly our institutional commitment to respect the dignity of the individual and to respect the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions—what I take to be one significant meaning of what we term Vincentian “personalism” as well as our commitment to diversity.

    Fair enough; Fink does seem to be an obnoxious guy who uses ad hominemattacks. And this is unacceptable in academia. However, it is notable that hte dean didn’t bother giving any examples, and Muffti is willing to bet that such examples are hard to find clear cases of because the line between attacking a position and attacking a personality is often hard to detect and substantiate. The point here is that the dean didnt’ like his tone – and was pretty explicit about it. That doesn’t seem to indicate that the scholarship was below quality.

    Muffti thinks it may be best that Fink didn’t get tenure, but frankly, he doens’t feel himself in any shape to evaluate a historian’s work. And Muffti is willing to be that most of us here really aren’t. And that the committee that turned him down isn’t. the deparment’s vote was 9-3 in favour of him, which is less good than one might hope for but not irregular in departments that aren’t completely collegial.

    So let’s not blind ourselves here. This decision was completly political. There may well be great academic reason to withhold tenure from this guy; but there is no evidence that they played any role in the denial of tenure in this case. And that cna’t be looked on kindly by people (like Muffti) who think that tenure is an important institituion precisely because it allows for freedom of speech, even in the face of employers (i.e. your president, dean) who don’t like what you have to say.

    Finally, Dershowitz’s comments that ‘It was the right decision, proving that DePaul University is indeed a first-rate university’.
    Fink may well have gotten his third rate assessment right, by some recognized standards. US News and Review puts DePaul at ‘third tier’. It didn’t make the Consus Group Rankings. The Center for Measuring University Performance gave it a 186th spot. The Washington Monthly College Rankings gave DePaul a solid 149th.

    Muffti isn’t trying to slam depaul, but enough hyperbole and uncareful statements have gone about already in this case.

  • Is GM saying that Finky could not even get tenure at a third-tier school whose president is a priest? It sounds like the easiest kind of place for him to get tenure, and he couldn’t even get it there. (He would be an exotic to them. He might, in theory, reinforce some of their notions.)

    GM, don’t be concerned. The entirety of academia agrees with Finky, and his is not a fragile, unusual, brave, risky or endangered position. That makes their rejecting him even more unexpected. He must have gone too far, somehow, even for academia. And maybe it takes a smaller, Christian school to have a the courage to do this. Maybe THEIR position is the brave one, GM! Nobody likes their kind anyway, so they have less to lose.

    I should send them some money, the nice people. Merry Christmas, De Paul. You’re all right.

  • Muffti, you are slamming DePaul, and you’re also placing your own spin on the decision (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at least it needs to be said). 😉

    You can call it a political decision, if you like, but I think it’s more closely related to the nature of his work which simply cannot be assessed without consideration for its political views.

    The fact is that Finkelstein has made his career by writing books that attack Jewish institutions, prominent Jews, Israel and prominent pro-Israel authors. Half of his last book – this would be a book that has to be considered as academic output – is spent attacking Dershowitz on his supposed plagiarism of yet another author whose work Finkelstein also wrote a dissertation about, Joan Peters. In both cases, he takes books or authors whose authorship expresses a pro-Israel outlook and seeks to take them down, often in brutally harsh personal and professional attacks. Is this scholarship? Maybe. If there’s actually some original research in there, you could make that claim (Dershowitz vehemently opposed Finkelstein’s claims).

    But the work is more than just about writing a book. We can put a monkey in front of a computer and he’ll also hammer out 200 pages if we feed him enough bananas. The work is about original research AND its presentation.

    Finkelstein’s presentation is highly personalized, vicious and patently one-sided. The problem is that even if you can show that the work is of high quality or has an impact on the field (neither of which seems to be the case with Finkelstein), when you’re an institution hiring someone permanently, you need to consider how you wish to be represented in the marketplace of ideas.

    It appears that De Paul University took great care to evaluate what they are about as an institution; which values are important to them and need to be upheld to maintain the uniqueness of the institution. The dean’s note which you quote alludes directly to these values and makes the claim that Finkelstein’s work and presentations do not meet them.

    Now, whether you approve of the system or not, the Committee and the dean are part of the process for a reason. They aren’t meant to be rubber stamps FOR A LIFETIME APPOINTMENT.

    If the dean and the Promotion and Tenure committee both rejected his application for tenure, you can be cynical and claim that this was a political decision. However, you can also take the university president’s word on the fact that it wasn’t. Instead, you can take the view that the university didn’t want to hire for life a bellicose lightning rod with a penchant for viciously attacking people, institutions and countries which, for whatever reason, appear to cause his inner demons intense discomfort.

    Instead of pooh-pooing the process and the fact that two out four stages went against Finkelstein before reaching the president’s desk, it would be far more fair of you to show the same respect for the integrity and deliberation of those who voted against Finkelstein as you seem to show for those who voted for him.

  • Middle, in fairness, Muffti gave reason for why he doesn’t respect the bodies that voted against him. They are less qualified. They are not people in his field. The handbook stipulates that it will be so. And yes, Muffti does think that your tenure should mostly be decided by people qualified to judge you, not by people who aren’t.

    The process is structured for one reason only: to make sure that a department doesn’t lose its standards and try to run a favourite through the tenure process. Its there to increase pressure on the department to give a full and fair assessment of the candidate. But, given that the department did that – and there was a both a minority report and a response by the majority in this case.

    You’re right that university’s do tend to evalute people based on the values of the university – but the whole point of the tenure process is to protect people from an imposition of the university’s values on an individual researcher.

    Muffti encourages you to go read the handbook of depaul. there is a section telling one how tehy will be evaluated. Here are relevant quotes (you can go verify here if you don’t trust the Muff.

    Guidelines and Criteria

    1. Specific instances of scholarship should
    be evaluated in light of their a)
    originality; b) contribution to knowledge;
    c) conceptual or artistic sophistication; d)
    intellectual rigor or artistic skills; e)
    effective application of knowledge to
    address human problems or needs, and; f)
    effective communication of knowledge to
    audiences beyond the classroom.
    2. If such instances of scholarship are not
    susceptible to such evaluation, they
    cannot satisfy the criteria for promotion
    and/or tenure.
    3. Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged
    that an activity may be evaluated in various ways. For example, an academic unit may evaluate oral presentations by – without limitation – listening to recordings, examining drafts, or soliciting
    the views of other scholars (including
    other members of the faculty) who were
    in attendance. An evaluative body may
    judge the reliability of the evaluative
    factors available as to each such activity.
    4. The faculty of a department, college or
    school will determine which forms of
    scholarship particularly advance and
    communicate knowledge within a
    disciplinary or interdisciplinary field and
    how the products of scholarship will be
    weighed.
    5. Activities conducted solely within a
    candidate’s classes, or designed merely to
    keep a candidate abreast of scholarly
    development in a field, should be
    considered in evaluating a candidate’s
    teaching, not in evaluating whether a
    candidate has satisfied the standard
    delineated for scholarship, research and/or
    other creative activities.

    Nothing here mentions tone. Or university values. So Muffti doesn’t know why Finky was the target of special consideration here, but he was. And with all due respect, Middle, and you know well that Muffti has plenty of it, Muffti does not think that you are qualified to make the judgment that youa re making about his work.

    JM, as usual, Muffti is a bit at a loss to divine your meaning. But of course academics are going to be on the side of an academic they think was treated unfairly, even if hte right decision was made. It’s not the decision, but the process here that is relevant.

  • You seem to wish he had been denied tenure without the need for the rest of the community to say “Wake up! He’s an idiot! ” Well, sure. That is the right way.

    But is the community supposed to piously go along no matter what?

  • Actually, Muff, although I don’t have time to read the entire manual, on page 5, under the Definition section of Scholarship, Research and or other Creative Activities, paragraph c, states: “The application of knowledge in responsible ways…” (italics mine).

    Now you or I could differ on the meaning of “responsible” but it seems to me that this clearly opens the door to questioning “values.”

    Also, the Service section on the same page also gives room for similar considerations because in paragraph b, they require that any Service be consistent with the university’s mission.

    Finally, the guidelines indicate that when a dean overturns the department committee’s vote, before the materials go up to the tenure committee, the department committee may submit their own letter with support for the candidate. I don’t know whether they did or didn’t send such a letter, but this option was open. Once again, you are not giving credit to the process or the seriousness with which it was undertaken.

  • Note that nobody is ever owed tenure. It is only GRANTED. Nobody said he can’t write and teach. He hasn’t been silenced or starved. He just isn’t good enough to be granted immunity from direct supervision. He needs direct supervision, because he is intellectually undisciplined.

  • Frankly, I don’t have a problem if “Jewish power” was what prevented The Fink from getting tenure.

    If that’s what it takes for people to repsect us, fine. I don’t think anyone was “forced” to deny Fink tenure; they probably just thought the game wasn’t worth the candle. And who knows, maybe they were pissed at Fink’s “third-rate” comments.

    But if the public uproar got the university to think “Hmmmm…..maybe it will look bad for a Catholic university to hire a raving anti-Semite, even if he is Jewish. We have our reoutation to think about”, so what?

    Shame and the fear of public humiliation are powerful motivators.

  • GM we are not allowed to be a rogue in the Torah. That means invoking correct procedure – in order to get an evil outcome. YOU are certainly not doing that – but you are opening the door for it – without meaning to! Careful!

  • Cutting through the foolishness of the people under you is exactly what presidents of colleges, or of anything else, are supposed to do. Bless him. He is knowing better, and talking clearly, so his reasons are made plain. Finky cannot claim to have been ganged up upon. Not with all those people on record as being for him. Just not enough of them. He had his chance fair and square. He was not run out of town, he was just voted down, because he didn’t convince.

    He failed his orals. So what? So do lots of people.

    We don’t have to automatically side with the creepy in case somebody is being prejudiced.

  • Muffti’ll do it soon as he steals finds an appropriate tool to do so. Hold on for a few hours. Muffti agrees that you can read ‘values’ in if you look carefully enough. But that’s just because the mission statement and handbook uses words that are vague and multiply interpretable. This of course makes it difficult to tell who falls under the rubric and who doesn’t. But the stress throughout is clearly on quality of work, adn the best people to judge that, like it or not, are people who work in the filed (incidentally, this is why mUffti favours external reviewing by experts in the field when it comes to making these evaluations). Similar considerations attend the mission statement. No scholar should feel safe if that is the sort of wide umbrella they hide behind when applying standards that are vague and not readable in advance by researchers.

    You’re right, JM, no one is owed tenure. But tenure is something you should expect to get if you follow the university guidelines and do research successfully. If at that point you are denied tenure, you have a right to complain. and if hte process looks compromised by external forces. When the people who are qualified to look at the work tell you its’ good work, they may be wrong. But when people who aren’t qualified run you out of town, then you have been run out of town. And Id ont’ see anything in the letter from the president that assuages this thought.

    Ephraim; that’s fine to say and consistent with your motivations and goals. Muffti’s are different, probably in large part for self interested reasons. But any university that will not stand up for a hire of theirs in the way DePaul did – by essentially overrulling the people they are supposed to trust most, the peers of the person in his own department and the unanymous recommedations of his college – don’t deserve to ever by able to hire good professors.

    Which basically, to Muffti’s mind, means that DePaul should expect to be a third rate school.

  • And JM, just how is Muffti opening any doors to roguery? If anything he is complaining about an apparent rogue decision (rogue in the sense you mentioned).

  • Only in a subjunctive sense. Maybe. Possibly.

    This is where making a judgement comes in, and no mechanism exists to produce a guaranteed right answer, just a judgement. “That’s how it looked to me and I just plain decided. I hope I was right.”

    We are not spared that queasy moment when we know we just have to make a visceral choice, and that’s all it is. It won’t be logically unassailable.

    You are very insistent on procedure, to the point of saying, or almost, who cares if it was the right answer, we didn’t get there in a totally kosher way. You do get to fret about the non-Kosher way, but you are still required to be happy it came out right.

    You are in danger of making an idol out of procedure.

    The concept “rogue in the Torah” is old, and complex, and would reward some inquiry with a rabbi. You could Google it. I am not clever enough to go further.

  • GM, you are acting as if Finky is an astronomer, mathematician, micro-biologist or immunologist. But his field is not technical at all. It is just poly sci or something. That is very opinion- and ideology-laden, and is about everybody and everything. It is about society, and we all have the vote over 18. So why can’t he be judged by all sorts of people? An entomologist couldn’t be, but he can be.

    Keeping department clannishness from hijacking a school’s resources is exactly what college presidents are supposed to do.

  • JM, everyone can have an opinion about Finky if they like. Muffti isn’t part of the thought police. But he does think its pure hubris to think that one is qualified to make judgments about the quality of work in general, its importance adn relevance to a field that they aren’t experts in. This isn’t to say taht departments never bullshit and lie. Nor to say that the department’s word should be final. Muffti is happy to have a process that includes more people that just the department clan – whcih in point of fact was only 75% on his side with a strong dissenting faction. He just thinks that you are owed a decent explanation when your tenure requests don’t go through, seeing as your academic life almost entirely depends on it. And Finky didn’t get a satisfactory one, in Muffti’s opinion.

  • The President’s letter was certainly satisfactory, Muffti, and it’s just a short version of the Tenure Board’s 4 page letter. Whatever you say, 3 out of 5 levels at DePaul nixed the promotion, Muffti. They knew they were being watched, they knew they were getting input from both sides from external sources, they knew they had to be as transparent as can be. In the end, there was opposition within his own department, there was opposition from the dean, there was opposition from a majority of the Tenure Board, and the president did not see fit to overturn their decision and in fact shows in his letter strong agreement. As noted, the Faculty Handbook allows them to address issues beyond research and publication, which they did.

    Why are you so stubborn about this? They went through the process exactly as they should have with extraordinary scrutiny placed upon them. He was close, but he didn’t get it. You seem offended that nobody rubber stamped the department’s majority, but that is precisely why they have multiple layers of decision-makers in the process and EVERY professor who is or isn’t promoted is evaluated by the same standards.

  • What does GM mean by “do research successfully” in this particular case? How do you succeed or fail in your Poly Sci research? It’s not like curing a disease, or discovering a demonstrably new species of newt, where you either did it, or didn’t.

    You say a candidate has a right to be judged with standards he or she can read in advance. In a mushy thing like Poly Sci? Are you looking for a repeatable experiment in Poly Sci?

    Are you uncomfortable with the character aspect of a professorship? But how can there be collegiality with people who are not honorable? Who do not make ad hominam attacks? That is where Finky really failed.

    Let us not be scared of the character part of this. It is necessary.

    Can we trust a college president to do his job? If not, then why is it easier to trust a professor in the department to do HIS job? Why trust one authority and not another one? How does one get to be a college president? Only by drinking tea with rich people? Aren’t they scholars too?

  • When Muffti ends up chairman of the Philosophy Department at DePaul, you can bet he’ll be singing a different tune.

  • Muffti agrees that 3 out of 5 levels nixed him. actually, looking at the letter, muffti realizes that finky had external reviewers, whcih in a sense really means that 3/6 approved of him, and Muffti thinks that we should give weight to people who are qualified judges rather than to people who aren’t. Not all the weight. If there is a sense that the department is trying to ram a lame duck through, then fine. And Muffti realizes that that is what you think happened here. But finky isn’t a lame duck; he’s a pain in the ass and an offense to the upper administration who don’t want him around.

    That’s fine. It’s their decision. Muffti only was saying this: good luck, DePaul, hiring good professors when you make a sham out of the tenure process by looking well beyond the quality of the work. You dont’ deserve them if you can’t come up with experts who can speak to the lack of quality of the work. If dershowitz is right, that shoujlnd’t be hard to find. Instead they reached for lame duck excuses.

    Morrissey, that was pretty funny 🙂

  • Yeah, they’ll have trouble hiring problematic professors who are concerned about their extreme and aggressive views. Don’t forget this isn’t the first time Finkelstein has been rejected by a university.

  • They hopefully won’t. Not everybody will be cynical in the way you are and not everybody would agree that a university should give tenure to a lightning rod, especially one whose work is not about scholarship, but rather about an agenda and a nasty one at that. Reasonable people, even scholars, understand perfectly why a university wouldn’t want a thug to be among its permanent members. If Finkelstein felt comfortable saying the things he said without the security of tenure, just imagine what was coming after tenure.

  • Muffti guesses that we’ll see. Agendas are completely not uncommon in academia, and you should know that the agenda scholarship distinction is not a real line but an extremely vague boundary region. Muffti has an agenda – every paper he writes argues for a position that he has an agenda to promote, and sometimes that involves massively criticizing others’ work that he finds to be mistaken and flawed.

    Anyhow, whatever. Time will tell Muffti supposes. He’s just glad that there are universities that aren’t like DePaul that have more respect for the scholarship aspect of someone’s work and the judgment of their peers than for the judgment of the people designed to take care of politics, i.e. the dean and president and a bunch of people who voted with the slimmest possible majority.

    What really annoying to Muffti is this: there’s been nothing but critical scrutiny of Fink’s work for years. Dershowitz dedicates a great deal of time to it. They could easily have mounted a case against him on that basis. Perfectly in line with the tenure process. They chose rather to hide behind vague language and scattered charges of ad hominem attacks.

    Muffti’s sick of this topic. Dude didn’t get tenure, and in the end htat’s probably for the best anyways.

  • Sorry, no. Ad hominam offense comes first. It outweighs, trumps, and comes first, and invalidates all, before we even GET to evaluationg his position in an objective way.

    If he engages in ad hominam, he has taken himself outside rational debate.

    It is then left to somebody ELSE, who does NOT do that, to advance his arguments, if they are worth advancing. HE is not competent to do it.

    We are ALL tempted to engage in ad hominam attacks. But we restrain ourselves, because we know that will only injure what we are trying to convince everybody of the truth of. We know people cannot allow that in a debate, a rational setting, or it will quickly dissolve into a brawl. So, gritting our teeth, we just advance our arguments and leave persons out of it.

    They were absolutely right to chuck him a priori for ad hominam.

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