The DePaul University Faculty Council on Wednesday passed a motion calling for the president to reverse the tenure denial of Namita Goswami, a philosophy faculty member. Following the denial, a faculty appeals board determined that the decision should be reversed because of policy, procedural and academic freedom violations in her review, but DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, chose not to overturn it. The denial of Goswami, who is female and South Asian and has a well-regarded academic record, intensified the ongoing debate over why many women and minority candidates have been rejected in tenure reviews at DePaul.
The entire motion reads, “Faculty Council calls upon President Holtschneider to withdraw his final judgment in the Namita Goswami tenure case in order to allow for the full consideration of academic freedom.” The council voted to pass it 20-4-2, citing neglect to follow faculty handbook provisions that allow for a formal hearing or another contract when the appeals board finds academic freedom violations. Tenured political science professor Valerie Johnson previously told Inside Higher Ed that if the motion passed and Father Holtschneider still did not take action, she thinks “that would probably lead to a mobilization of a vote of ‘no confidence.'”
Prior to the meeting, Provost Helmut Epp sent a memo to the council that was later obtained by Inside Higher Ed. In the memo, Epp argued that a closer reading shows the handbook provision does not apply after a tenure decision has been made – rather, it applies only to faculty members whose academic freedom was violated before the final tenure decision. “While the language of the handbook could certainly be stated more clearly,” Epp wrote, “this seems to me to be the reading that best harmonizes and respects all the relevant texts.”