To the Editor:
As president of the DePaul University Faculty Council, I would appreciate the opportunity to clarify a few concerns raised in "Students Protest Tenure Denials at DePaul U." (The Chronicle, June 22). ... These concerns include the commitment of the DePaul University faculty to academic freedom; the primacy of faculty peer review in promotion and tenure decisions at DePaul; and the provision in the university's faculty handbook for a formal review of an adverse decision on reappointment, whether before or after an application for tenure and promotion, by an independent faculty body.
First, as a community of teachers and scholars, the DePaul University faculty maintains an unqualified commitment to the rights and responsibilities of academic freedom. We recognize that as new scholarly contributions are researched, formulated, and published, they may cause controversy within existing scholarly discourses. We welcome such discussions and debates as evidence that new knowledge is being produced and existing opinions tested, and that the debates this process engenders will strengthen and enrich the academic enterprise and the society that fosters it.
Second, the university's faculty handbook outlines a multistage process of peer review, beginning with the home academic unit — department or college — and ending with the recommendation offered by the University Board on Promotion and Tenure, a faculty committee appointed by the Faculty Council and convened by the provost. The president of the university decides whether to accept the recommendation of the board.
The handbook states that the president may overturn the board's recommendation only "in rare instances and for compelling reasons." In the cases that are now receiving widespread attention, it was the board that made the adverse recommendations.
Third, the handbook guarantees certain rights for faculty members who have received adverse decisions in the retention, tenure, and promotion processes. One of these is the right to a review by an independent faculty body. This is clearly described in the handbook's chapter on separation. ... The University Faculty Council met and reaffirmed its support for this right on June 13. As of July 6, no request for a formal review has been received. ...
Anne Clark Bartlett
Professor of English