DePaul Accused of Bias in Tenure Denial

November 18, 2010

Supporters of Quinetta Shelby released documents Wednesday suggesting bias in her tenure denial at DePaul University. Shelby is the only black faculty member in the chemistry department at the university, and while she was rejected by her department, a university appeals panel found that she was treated unfairly. Among other things, the appeals panel found that her department changed policies after the review started, refused to consider some of her publications and awards even though they met criteria that had been established, and seemed to focus on minor negative issues in otherwise positive portions of her tenure file. The "numerous procedural violations" raised significant questions of fairness, the appeals panel found, suggesting that the negative departmental recommendation be set aside.

The Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul's president, has declined to reverse the decision.

A university statement acknowledged that in the last year, six minority candidates were denied tenure, but the statement said that standards are applied equally and that in the previous three academic years, DePaul University awarded tenure to minority faculty at the same rate (84 percent) as white scholars. Still, the university is conducting a study on best practices in helping candidates prepare for tenure. "Denials of tenure are sad days in a university community, precisely because a well-known colleague is not granted lifetime employment. That is true in the case of our colleague Dr. Shelby as well," the statement said.

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