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June 06, 2017


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David Schraub

Abba Eban famously quipped that "If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions." So too, it seems, that if JVP circulates a letter saying Fresno State was devoured by a hellmouth and Israel had summoned it, it would amass 500 signatures within the week.


The list of faculty signatories looks like the usual people who sign petitions like these. Some of them must have been involved in hiring and tenure/promotion cases in the past, and must know that the public rhetoric about hiring and T&P very frequently has nothing to do with what actually happened. People who didn't get hired or who didn't get tenure are free to argue their cases publicly, while search committees, deans, and provosts usually can't say anything substantive about particular cases because they are bound by rules of confidentiality (and fear of revealing information that could be used in a lawsuit). I wouldn't expect someone outside of academia to know very much about hiring practices, but tenured faculty members should know better.


When a faculty search or tenure decision becomes controversial, there should not be the ordinary presumption that the Provost or President is telling the truth about what happened. Whether the pressure comes from donors, alumni, board members, politicians in the case of public universities, or activist faculty cliques, I work on the presumption that any statement from the administration will range from misleading to outright lie.

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