Sunday, October 3, 2010


Unwanted!--A Novel has now been posted in its entirety. It was inspired (so to speak) by two events: one at Brown University (which the New York Times ran a story about on November 18, 1990), and the other at Duke University (which the New York Times ran a story about on September 19, 1993).

I am very pleased that Unwanted! has attracted readers in many countries--especially America, Canada, Britain, Russia, Slovenia, France, Singapore, Germany, China, and India.

If you’re new to this blog, please start with Chapter 1 and read forward.

I hope that you’ll also read another blog novel that I have posted—Diary of a First Year Grad Student—which can be found here:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chapter 17

Ann Sweezy was walking back to her office with a load of blue books to grade from the final exam she had just administered when she unexpectedly came upon Elita White, who was carrying a similar burden.

Ann had been trying hard not to display her emotions in public, but her eyes now suddenly filled with tears. "Oh, Elita!" she said. "I heard that Michaelson turned you down for tenure. He turned me down too!"

"Yeah, I heard," said Elita. "He's a bastard! But that provost is a real bitch! I'm glad she's leaving!"

"It's been so humiliating!" complained Ann. "The worst thing of all is how everyone in my department treats me like a pariah now. When I go into the main office or even the hallway, other faculty stop talking and move away from me. A few told me they were sad about the news, but I think most of them have already written me off and are already arguing about what to do with my position!" She could not stop herself from sobbing, even out here in the open.

"Well," Elita responded angrily, "that's the way I've been made to feel since the very first day I started teaching here. Nobody in my department has ever asked my opinion or sought my input on anything serious. I know what they all think: that I was brought in to satisfy some affirmative action quota, and that I never would have been hired if I wasn't black. I can tell that not one of them thinks my appeal will succeed, and that they'll finally be rid of me this time next year."

Ann was taken aback by this. All she could think to say was, "But at least you have the support of the NDU African-American community."

"I'm afraid you have an idealized notion of the unity of the African-American community here," said Elita scornfully. "I haven't received much support from that quarter. In fact, I've even heard rumors that it was Charles Gibson who did me in."

They both remembered the little episode with him. There was no need to discuss it. "But you know what humiliates me more than anything?" Ann asked, and then answered herself: "Michaelson gave tenure to Robert Barnes, but he's decided to leave anyway! He can stay but he doesn't want to, while I want to stay but probably can't! What am I going to do?" She then sobbed some more. She didn't care who saw.

"I'll tell you what you're going to do," said Elita. "I'll tell you what both of us are going to do. We're both going to appeal next year. And we're both going to win--without publishing or doing anything more than we already have."

Ann stopped crying. "What makes you say that?" Surely this was wishful thinking, Ann thought.

"It's simple!" Elita responded. "Just think about it: during the entire tenure process this past year, who wrote the most negative memo about you?"

"The provost," answered Ann. "That was a real surprise."

"Same for me," said Elita. "But she won't be here next year."

"Yes, but..."

"Now tell me this: did the chair of your department write you a positive memo this past year?" asked Elita.

"Yes, she did, but..."

"So did mine," Elita continued. "If our chairs wrote us positive memos this past year, there's no way that they can write anything less positive next time around--not without risking a lawsuit in which they would have to explain why they wrote positive memos for us the first time."

"Yes, but what about the voting by the departmental faculty and the college P&T committee?"

"Forget them!" Elita insisted. "The chair of my department wrote me a positive memo even after the tenured faculty in my department gave me a split vote, and the dean wrote me a positive memo even after I received more negative votes than positive ones on the P&T committee. Did the dean write you a positive memo too?"


"Just like our chairs," Elita explained, "Dean DiSola can't write memos any less positive about us than he wrote this past year without running the risk of being sued. But here's the clincher: instead of going to Provost Bobier, next year's memos from Dean DiSola will then go to Acting Provost DiSola. He can hardly advise turning us down in his capacity as acting provost after having advised approving our appeals in his capacity as dean--as he must since he advised approving us for tenure this year."

Ann hadn't thought of this. "But what about President Michaelson?" she asked. "Why would he change his mind about us?"

"Did Michaelson's letter rejecting your application for tenure state any reason for doing so?"

"No," responded Ann. "It just said something like, `I am sorry to inform you that, in accordance with the recommendation of the provost, I have decided not to approve your application for promotion and tenure.' He then went on to tell me that I was eligible for a one-year appointment during which I could appeal this decision, but which would be terminal if my appeal was unsuccessful."

"I got the same letter," said Elita. "The key phrase in it was `in accordance with the recommendation of the provost.' If he receives positive recommendations for us from the acting provost next year, then he is likely to award us tenure `in accordance with the recommendation of the provost.' If everyone below him recommends granting our appeals, he's not going to stick his neck out by denying them. He knows we'd sue him personally. Getting rid of us wouldn't be worth the hassle!"

By now Ann was convinced. "Oh, Elita! I think it just might work!"

"It will," Elita responded, "unless we let the system get us down. You and I have got to help each other. Nobody else is going to help us--at least not voluntarily!"

As they parted company, Ann felt a return of the sense of hope which had abandoned her after first receiving Provost Bobier's memo recommending she be denied tenure. She also realized that she had for the first time felt a sense of connection with Elita.

* * *

Later that day, after finally being able to get off the phone, Ruth Silverstein got up from her chair and opened the door to her office. "Come on in, Trond. I'm sorry I kept you waiting. I'm afraid things are pretty hectic around here."

"No problem," said Trond unconvincingly.

As they both sat in their accustomed places, Ruth asked, "Now what was it you wanted to see me about?"

"It's about Rob Barnes," replied Trond. "I'm afraid he's not going to change his mind about leaving. Can you do anything to help persuade him to stay?"

Ruth shrugged her shoulders. "He's a big boy. He can make his own decisions. And to tell you the truth, it would be quite useful if he did leave. I'd like to convert his slot into a public policy position. I even think the Public Policy Institute would be able to pick up half the tab, so it would reduce the cost to the department dramatically. In fact, if we get going on this now, we could advertize it and get it filled by the start of the fall semester."

Trond was taken aback. "The international relations people in the department are going to cry foul if you do that. They think of Rob's position as theirs."

Ruth shrugged her shoulders again. "So maybe we make it some kind of international public policy position. The point is that my being acting director of the Public Policy Institute has created a real opportunity for the department. Everyone was afraid that the institute was going to take resources away from the department. But now we have the opportunity to add the institute's resources to ours."

"Yes, but this link might only last for the year that you're acting director. What happens if a permanent director is chosen from outside who wants to swallow up part of our department? We'd have given him half a position already."

Why, Ruth wondered, did academics always just see obstacles and never opportunities? Trying hard to hide her exasperation, she said, "Trond, if we play our cards right, we have the opportunity to swallow the Public Policy Institute--and its resources--into our department. I've already floated the idea with Dominic, and he very much supports it. If I become permanent director of the institute, it just might work!" Yes, this was definitely a time of opportunity.

Trond frowned. "I'm not sure the faculty here wants you to be splitting your time between the department and the institute for more than a year. I'm not sure they want anything to do with the institute, or that they even want it to exist."

Opportunity might be banging on the door, but Trond and his kind would be too fearful to answer it. "Trond, the institute is a fact," said Ruth. "Michaelson has invested too much in it. He's not going to cancel the project just because people in this department aren't sure whether they want it. We either seize the opportunity that fate has provided us with to shape it to our own liking, or we have nothing to do with it--and remain powerless to stop it from competing with us for faculty slots, funding, and everything else that we fear it will do. I think it's pretty obvious which course of action is preferable."

"I see your point, Ruth," said Trond, "but I don't think the department is prepared for this. I'm sure that the IR people are not going to buy converting Rob's slot into an international public policy one--at least not yet. I really think that you're going to have to proceed very, very slowly in the fall if you're going to bring everybody on board."

"There just isn't time for that!" said Ruth, now with no effort to hide her exasperation. "If we're going to convince Michaelson to let us run the institute, we've got to show him that we're prepared to act decisively. We have to present him with a fait accompli. That's why I want to convert Rob's position to a joint appointment with the institute, and get it filled by the end of the summer!"

"I...I just don't know, Ruth..."

"Look, I'm afraid I've got a meeting to go to," she interrupted. They both got up and went their separate ways.

* * *

Later still that day, Rob Barnes was in his office grading final exams from his international political economy class when he heard a knock at his door.

"Come in!" he called.

The door opened to reveal Cindy McMann. She came in and shut the door behind her.

"Oh, hi Cindy!" said Barnes cheerily. "Did you think I have the grades for the IPE class already?"

"Do you?" she asked as she sat down.

Barnes laughed. "I'm only about half way through them, but I do have yours. Once again, you got an A."

"Thank you!" said Cindy.

"Don't thank me," responded Rob. "You earned it!"

"Actually," said Cindy, "there's something else I want to ask you about. A few weeks ago, I signed up for your Latin American politics seminar next fall. But when I checked my registration today on the computer, it said that the class was canceled. Is it?"

This, Rob knew, was Ruth Silverstein's work. When she found out he was leaving, she immediately moved to cancel his classes next fall. That, of course, was only practical, Rob realized. He thought it was interesting, though, that she had made no effort to dissuade him from leaving--unlike President Michaelson.

"I'm afraid it is, Cindy. I won't be coming back in the fall."

Michaelson had not only gone ahead and awarded him promotion and tenure, but had sent his dossier along for ratification by the Board of Trustees--which had now gone through.

"Will you be offering it in the spring, then?" asked Cindy.

Rob had told Michaelson that he already had another job lined up which he would be starting almost as soon as the semester was over. Saying that he still wouldn't yet act on his letter of resignation, Michaelson had asked Rob to write him a letter requesting two years' leave without pay--the maximum period that universities would normally allow a professor to be away.

"I'm afraid I won't be back at all, Cindy."

Trond Knutsen had also been pressing Rob to do this. He had been one of Rob's supporters all along. Trond had also made it clear that a battle was brewing over what to do with Rob's position after he left, which was somehow mixed up with Ruth becoming acting director of the new Public Policy Institute. If Rob would agree to go on leave instead of resign outright, Trond argued, Ruth could only replace him with a one-year-at-a-time restricted appointment during that period.

Rob was certain he wouldn't be coming back. The job with Johnny at Mack & Monk paid more than twice what he'd be earning at NDU even with tenure (Rob was shocked to learn that being promoted from assistant to associate professor would only mean a measly $2,000 raise). Still, he thought he might ask for a leave of absence anyway just to help Trond thwart Ruth in whatever it was they were fighting over.

"Why?" asked Cindy.

That was a good question. He had, after all, gotten tenure in the end--despite Provost Bobier.

"A much higher paying opportunity came along, and I decided to take it," he responded. That opportunity, of course, had first been presented to him last September. He had turned it down then. Why was he accepting it now? What was different?

"You weren't turned down for tenure or anything, were you?"

"No! No!" he responded. "In fact, they've just awarded it to me." Still, it didn't feel like much of a victory somehow. He had assumed that there would be absolutely no question about his being granted tenure. The fact that anyone had questioned it at all--especially the provost in her memo recommending that he be turned down this time--had stung him bitterly. So had the nonsensical sexual assault charge--and even more, how it had been manipulated after the young woman who had made it apparently sought to withdraw it.

"Will you be teaching somewhere else?"

"No, I'm leaving academia altogether."

Rob had sent in his resignation soon after receiving the provost's memo when he thought that he would be turned down for tenure by the president and that he'd better act fast to secure his future. It was clearly better to go work at Mack & Monk than to stay on at NDU after the disgrace of being denied tenure, even though he could apply for it again.

But even after learning that Michaelson had decided to promote him anyway, Rob found the prospect of life with tenure to be just as disturbing as life without it. It's not that Rob objected to tenure per se--far from it. But it would be tenure at NDU. Switching to another university with tenure seemed much more difficult now that he faced the challenge of doing so than it had last September when he told Johnny so self-confidently that that was what he would do after getting tenure here. Far fewer tenured positions were advertized in the APSA Personnel Service Newsletter than tenure-track ones. And each time one was, he could well imagine that there would be intense competition for it as dozens and dozens of tenured professors, dissatisfied with universities similar to NDU, applied for it. And if it wasn't going to be easy to move, that meant he might spend years and years--perhaps even his whole career--in this shabby little office earning a miserable salary and receiving no research support except from money he himself raised outside the university.

No, it was better to move to Mack & Monk while he could. There was no tenure in the financial world, but the salaries were great. There might not be time for writing books or even articles, but he could still be interviewed by the media. Maybe he could move into a high level position at State or Treasury, and then to a think-tank like Brookings or the Carnegie Endowment. Yes, his career would be far better served by moving to Mack & Monk now than by staying at a dump like NDU.

"So how come you didn't tell us in class that you were leaving?"

This question caught Rob up short. He had planned on telling each of his classes on his last day of teaching that he wouldn't be coming back, but found himself choking up before he could begin to say so. The same thing happened at the beginning of each of his final exams. And so he had ended up saying nothing.

"Well, I guess it just slipped my mind," Rob replied.

Cindy looked at him quizzically. "You know, I was really looking forward to taking your Latin American politics seminar next fall. I had also recommended your classes to some of my friends."

Rob felt himself choking up again. He was surprised how sad he was at the prospect of not teaching his classes any more. There was something about teaching, he knew, that earning even a lot more money doing something else wouldn't make up for.

"I'll miss you too!" said Rob, standing up quickly to signal that the visit was over. He was afraid to even look at her. Why was this so difficult?

Cindy stood up too. She reached over and put her hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yes," he said weakly. "Look, I think you'd better go now."

She put her other hand on his other shoulder. "I'm sorry," she said, "I'm really, really sorry."

But when he looked up, she was gone.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chapter 16

George Michaelson strode into the NDU Board of Trustees room precisely at noon. It was a smaller group of journalists than had attended his press conference last September. There were no cameras this time. Nor was there anyone from the student newspaper, The New Dominion.

"We don't ordinarily hold a press conference in May, and on the last day of classes at that," Michaelson began, "but recent events have made it necessary.

"As was first reported by Kate Morgan in the Post on Monday," Michaelson continued, nodding at Kate, "NDU's provost, Dr. Jeannette Bobier, has been offered and has accepted the presidency of St. Catherine's College on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She shall be missed sorely here, but we wish her well in her new endeavor."

This, George knew, was not quite how he felt. She had created several little messes which she was now walking away from and leaving him to clean up. She had also mentioned just recently how she thought that the contacts she was making on the ZARD Industries board of directors would enable her to raise the $75,000 to cover the expense of the botched Public Policy Institute directorship search. This money, if she had in fact raised it, would now go with her to St. Catherine's College.

"Life here at NDU," he continued, "can and will go on. We are pleased to announce that Dominic DiSola, the dean of NDU's College of Arts and Sciences, has agreed to serve as acting provost next year while a national search is conducted to fill the position. He will also continue to serve as CAS dean. Just raise your hand there, Dominic, in case there's anybody here who doesn't know you already."

It wasn't clear that he was really provost material, Michaelson thought to himself as Dean DiSola timidly raised his hand and smiled weakly at the assemblage. He was far too close to the faculty for Michaelson's taste, and would not willingly play the role of executioner on promotion and tenure decisions as Jeannette Bobier had done. But Michaelson really had no other choice at such short notice. The College of Arts and Sciences was the biggest and most diverse unit within the university. Hence Dominic had some experience dealing with the range of issues that a provost had to deal with, unlike the deans of the smaller, more specialized schools and colleges who were intimately familiar with their own fields and little else.

"As most of you know," said Michaelson, "our search for a director of the new Public Policy Institute didn't quite work out as we had hoped. We are really not disappointed, however, as we would rather take the time to find the person we know is right for the job."

There was no need to reveal that the three candidates who had been offered the job had all turned it down. They were obviously not "right" for the job--or right in the head either, as far as Michaelson was concerned.

"We will reopen the search for a permanent director this coming year," he continued. "In the meantime, though, Ruth Silverstein, chair of our Political Science Department, has graciously agreed to serve as acting director next year in order to get the institute up and running. She will also continue to run the Poli Sci Department. Okay, Ruth, now you raise your hand."

She smiled and waved with much greater self-confidence than Dominic had. Michaelson had his doubts about the more Machiavellian benefits that Jeannette said would result from this appointment. Ruth struck him as enthusiastic but competent when she came to his office to talk about taking on the assignment. He didn't think she would cause him any problems during her year as acting director--at least he hoped not.

"That's all the announcements we have at present," Michaelson concluded. "Are there any questions?"

The first to raise his hand, Michaelson noted with annoyance, was Todd Rawlings from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Is it true," he asked, "that NDU paid $75,000 of the tax payers’ money to the headhunting firm of Little & Ball for the search this past year which failed to produce a permanent director for the new Public Policy Institute?"

Oh, shit! How the hell did he find that out? "Yes, I think it was something like that," responded Michaelson, clearly caught off guard. "But you've got to keep in mind, Todd, that that fee included all the costs of advertising the position, correspondence and phone calls with all applicants, and all the expenses of bringing the candidates here which the university would have borne directly if it had conducted the search without the aid of a headhunting firm."

"You've just announced," Rawlings continued, "that next year there would be a national search for provost and that the search for the Public Policy Institute director would be reopened. Are those going to cost $75,000 apiece too?"

Michaelson hadn't quite focused on this. "Well, you've got to understand, Todd, that NDU must compete with other universities for top flight administrative talent. Employing headhunting firms to do so is becoming standard practice in higher education."

"Why not just appoint Dean DiSola as provost and Professor Silverstein as institute director, and save the taxpayers $150,000 next year?"

This was embarrassing. He couldn't just come out and say that it was because these positions were too important to be entrusted to anyone already at NDU. "Now, Todd! Dominic and Ruth already have full-time jobs here. They are free to apply for the permanent positions, if they so choose. Serving on an acting basis will allow them--and me--the opportunity to see whether it is a good fit for them, or whether retaining their regular positions makes more sense.

"Besides," Michaelson added, "if we simply appointed Dominic and Ruth, or anyone else here, to these positions permanently, we'd immediately have to begin searches to fill their old positions."

"I appreciate that," said Todd. "But it sure seems like it would be a waste if you spend $75,000 apiece on searches for these positions next year, and the people chosen to fill them end up being the two acting appointees. And would a headhunting firm then be hired to fill the regular positions they occupy now?"

"Now, Todd, this is getting highly speculative," replied Michaelson. "I can't answer that question since I have no idea what the result of next year's searches will be.

"Does anyone else have a question?" asked Michaelson, hoping to get off this subject.

Kate Morgan raised her hand. "I'd like to follow up on something from last fall. I wrote about how an NDU staff member identified to me a student who had filed a sexual assault complaint about Professor Robert Barnes, but when questioned, that student denied ever having filed such a complaint..."

"I'm sorry, Kate, but it is NDU's policy not to discuss in public anything to do with sexual assault charges or their withdrawal. We realize that we had some unfortunate episodes of sloppy journalism by the student paper last semester--which you wrote about in a little more detail than we would have liked--but that problem has been addressed."

The reporters from these two papers were so predictable, thought Michaelson. While the Times-Dispatch always obsessed about anything to do with how state tax money was spent, the Post always obsessed about anything to do with sex.

"All I want to know," continued Kate, "is this: if there were no such charges filed against Professor Barnes, why is he leaving NDU?"

Now how the hell had she found that out? Nothing remained confidential here.

"Was he denied tenure?" she pressed on. "If so, I thought assistant professors were always allowed a year to appeal if they turned down?"

"No, he was not denied tenure!" Michaelson replied hotly. In a calmer tone, he added, "Nor is it absolutely certain that he's leaving. Information of this nature, of course, is confidential, and I really hope you won't quote me even having said this much. If you want to learn anything more, you'll have to talk to Professor Barnes himself."

As far as Michaelson was concerned, Jeannette's handling of Barnes was a far greater problem than the failure of the search she had overseen for a Public Policy Institute director. Michaelson had affirmed her decision to deny tenure to Elita White and Ann Sweezy. Those two clearly did not deserve it. But her Machiavellian scheme to make their ouster appeal-proof by denying early tenure to the more qualified Barnes had backfired.

Barnes had received a copy of the provost's memo recommending against tenure for him at the same time as Michaelson's office had. It had taken almost three weeks before Michaelson had been able to look at the three dossiers Jeannette was advising him to turn down, talk to her about her reasoning, and decide to award Barnes tenure against her advice. Barnes, though, had also reacted to the provost's memo. Perhaps anticipating that Michaelson would deny him tenure as the provost advised, Barnes had sent Michaelson a terse letter announcing his resignation as of the end of the semester. Michaelson had received it just this past Monday--the very day Michaelson had signed his own letter to Barnes awarding him promotion and tenure.

For Michaelson, attracting and keeping winners like Barnes was far more important than getting rid of losers like White and Sweezy. So much more important, in fact, that Michaelson had abased himself to the extent that he had actually phoned Barnes to say that he had been awarded tenure, and to please reconsider his resignation. Barnes's reply was simply, "Thanks, but I've already accepted a job somewhere else." He even said that it was a job that had no tenure!

Jeannette, of course, had failed to calculate that going elsewhere would be an option for Barnes. And now that she too was leaving, she no longer cared. What Michaelson feared was that word would spread about not just Scott Halpern, but now also Robert Barnes turning down a tenure offer from NDU in favor of an untenured position elsewhere. Would others like them think that there was something wrong with NDU? This was not the sort of reputation Michaelson wanted for his university. He'd try again to persuade Barnes to stay, or if not that, take a leave of absence instead of resigning. He'd ask Ruth and Dominic to work on him, too. They should do this for him, Michaelson thought, since they both now owed him for their new acting positions--as well as higher salaries.

"There's something else I'd like to follow up on," said Todd. "Who was responsible for selecting Little & Ball as the headhunting firm to conduct the Public Policy Institute director search this past year?"

Oh, God! Is he still on that? "It was Provost Bobier who arranged that," responded Michaelson.

"Is it true," continued Todd, "that Little & Ball was also the firm that conducted the search for the presidency of St. Catherine's College?"

That bitch! So Jeannette had hired Little & Ball mainly so they would peddle her to some other college--which, of course, they earned another fat fee from. But since he didn't know for certain whether Todd's information was correct, Michaelson decided that a low-key reaction was in order. "We don't know anything about how the search for the new president of St. Catherine's College was conducted. You'll have to address any questions about that to the administration at St. Catherine's."

And Michaelson knew that Todd would. Maybe Kate would too, although Michaelson couldn't see any sort of sex angle for her. Well, if there was one, she'd find it.

Michaelson looked at his watch. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave," he announced. This time, he really did have a meeting to go to. "If you have any further questions, please address them to Dominic, Ruth, or our media relations director.

"We hope to see you all back here in September when we'll be announcing another exciting new initiative here at NDU."

"Will that entail yet another $75,000 national search?" asked Todd.

Michaelson, though, was already out the door.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chapter 15

Jeannette Bobier was annoyed. Things had not gone the way she had planned. And she had put quite a lot of effort into planning them--which only made her more annoyed.

Jeannette was tired of playing second fiddle to George Michaelson here at NDU. She was tired of him announcing some grand new initiative at the beginning of each academic year, and then leaving her to find a dean or director for it as well as get it started. When she did all this well, he took the credit. And when she wasn't able to do it well, he assigned her the blame--as was occurring now with this damned Public Policy Institute.

She had thought that hiring the headhunting firm of Little & Ball to organize the search for the institute director would solve her problems. She had thought it would do a much better job than would a search committee dominated by faculty members on its own. But it had failed--even though it had been paid $75,000. Now it was April, and George was breathing down her neck to find an acting director for the institute from within NDU. And, she knew well, he would hold the $75,000 expenditure against her.

She herself knew she couldn't blame the search firm entirely. It was true that two of the five candidates who came through had been turkeys. But the other three had been acceptable. So acceptable, in fact, that each had been offered the position. And each had turned it down.

The first two had merely used the offer to wangle themselves some sort of administrative promotion at their home universities. This had stung. But what had really stung was being rejected by the last candidate--Scott Halpern. She, as well as Little & Ball, had thought of him as their "safe" candidate--the one most likely to accept if offered the job. He would, after all, be moving from a tenure track to a tenured position, and see his salary triple to boot. How could he turn that down? Somehow or other, he had. Nor did his doing so add luster to NDU's image. And now Jeannette was left holding the ball.

But this wasn't the only reason why Jeannette was annoyed. There was a more personal concern as well. The main reason why she had hired Little & Ball was because of its reputation for successfully recruiting top people in higher education. Her goal in hiring the firm was not just for it to conduct the search for the institute director here, but for it to have her in mind when it conducted searches for university presidents elsewhere.

This had, in fact, happened--to an extent. She had let them know she was interested in moving on from NDU and becoming a university president in her own right. And the firm had obliged: she had made the short list and was--just in the past few weeks--interviewed for the presidency at Southern Arizona University, Hills College in Northern California, and St. Catherine's College on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, though, she heard last week that Hills had made an offer to someone else, and that the offer had been accepted. And she had received similar news just today about Southern Arizona. She had yet to hear from St. Catherine's, but at this point she had resigned herself to spending at least one more year in George Michaelson's shadow.

Furthermore, between interviewing candidates here for the Public Policy Institute directorship and being interviewed herself elsewhere, Jeannette realized that she had let a few things slip. The recent ZARD Industries annual meeting, along with the attendant board meeting and receptions, had also distracted her. But now, she really had to buckle down. Her memos to George on this year's crop of promotion and tenure cases had been due at the end of March. It was now early April and she still had not done them. She decided that she was going to get them done today.

For the most part, her task was easy since all except three cases from the College of Arts and Sciences had unanimous support from lower levels of review. This being the case, she was not in a position to turn down any of these candidates. In fact, she would not even bother to read their thick dossiers, but would merely paraphrase the memo from the dean of the law school, engineering school, arts and sciences, or wherever else the dossier came from in her own memo about each candidate to the president.

There were only three cases that had received split votes at both the department faculty and the P&T committee levels: Elita White, Ann Sweezy, and Robert Barnes--all from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was not at all surprised to see that the CAS dean, Dominic DiSola, had approved all three. He was, she knew from the dossiers he had forwarded in previous years, a spineless wonder. He recommended promotion and tenure, she suspected, for people even he knew were losers in the expectation that Jeannette would do his dirty work for him by recommending rejection.

She had called Dominic to inquire whether he really supported all three of these candidates, or whether she had "misread" any of his memos. Even then the sonofabitch wouldn't tell her anything negative about any of them, stating only that he had said everything he had to say about all three cases in his memos. This lack of candor and excess of caution was most undesirable in a dean, she thought. She would have to do something about Dominic DiSola--whenever the occasion arose.

Her call to the chair of the History Department was far more productive. He was practically frantic about the prospect of Elita White becoming a tenured member of his department. He said that after receiving a damning 6-6-1 vote in the department and an even more damning 3-4-0-1 vote from the P&T committee, he had thought DiSola would surely recommend against her getting tenure. The chair had been shocked when he received the copy of DiSola's memo recommending for. Jeannette reminded him that his own memo had recommended White for tenure, and asked him why he had written that if it was not what he meant. He admitted having done so just to avoid a confrontation with her and because he assumed she would be axed at a higher level anyway. Jeannette thanked him for his input, but warned him to say what he truly meant in future. "Otherwise, you risk getting what you ask for but don't really want." He then pleaded with Jeannette to recommend against tenure for Elita, but Jeannette would only state that she was "still considering" what to do.

Jeannette had every intention of recommending against Elita. Her research record was absolutely pathetic. It was also clear that she was not at all a good colleague. The trouble with Elita, though, was that she was black. What this meant was that if she was rejected for tenure, she would inevitably claim that the decision was made on the basis of racial prejudice. Jeannette knew that she would have to prepare Elita's rejection very carefully if it was to survive the inevitable appeal Elita would file next year and, assuming that was unsuccessful, the lawsuit she would initiate afterward.

The first thing Jeannette did, then, was telephone Charles Gibson--NDU's most prominent African-American scholar--to sound out what his reaction would be if Elita White were to be denied tenure. And here she had hit pay dirt: he indicated that he would not object at all, and then told her of the discussion about Elita in the P&T committee (which Jeannette hadn't been aware he was serving on). And just as she had with the chair of the History Department, Jeannette took careful notes on her conversation with Charles--very careful notes.

The most important step in making sure that the rejection of a black or any other minority candidate for tenure was upheld, Jeannette knew from long experience, was being able to point to a white with a similar or even better record who was also rejected. In this regard, Ann Sweezy's dossier was clearly a godsend. Unlike the chair of the History Department vis-a-vis Elita, the chair of the Political Science Department really did support Ann. Otherwise, however, the dossiers were quite similar: only one book apiece, and just with an unprestigious scholarly commercial press at that. Both had few publications beyond the one book, though both had long service records. Yes, rejecting Ann for tenure would definitely allow the university to point out that it was not singling Elita out just because she was black.

Ann, of course, could be expected to appeal her rejection for tenure on the basis that she was being discriminated against for being a woman. Academic losers were all so predictable, Jeannette thought. Their rejection for tenure was never their own fault, according to them, but always the result of some form of discrimination. They were pathetic!

The ideal antidote to this, she knew, was to show that she had recommended against a white male with equal, or preferably, superior credentials than any woman or minority being turned down. The white male, after all, could not argue that he was being discriminated against--unless, of course, he was gay. (Jeannette had her doubts about gay white males in academia; she thought that at least half of them only pretended to be gay so that they too could claim that any action taken against them was not due to any fault of their own but to discrimination on the part of others). Robert Barnes, though, could make no such claim. As the "finding" against him forwarded by the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee indicated, it was girls that he liked to touch.

Jeannette had not been impressed with the committee's "finding" against him or with the "evidence" it was based on--the paper by the roommate describing what happened in Barnes's office. In fact, she had been rather disgusted that Ann Sweezy had actually given academic credit to some girl for writing it--one more reason, she thought, for rejecting Ann's bid for tenure. Besides, the girl who at first complained against Barnes had tried to withdraw the complaint, and had even come to Jeannette's office to bitch about Ellen Stenkovsky not letting her do so.

Jeannette remembered that girl--Cindy her name was. Yes, she was quite attractive. Jeannette was certain that she and Barnes were lovers. There was one thing Jeannette was not certain about: had the girl really come to talk to her on her own initiative without Barnes knowing, as she said, or had he actually sent her there with that story? Either way, the two of them had clearly made up after the incident described in the paper. Jeannette had no doubt that Barnes had been touching a lot more than the girl's shoulder since then.

Nor did Jeannette really care. Unlike Ellen, she wasn't bothered much by consensual sex between faculty and students--as long as they were discreet. But there was no reason to let Barnes know that. He'd raise the roof if he knew his application for early tenure was being rejected mainly to bolster her effort to force Elita and Ann out altogether. But she doubted that he would say anything at all if she let him think that delaying tenure was the price he had to pay for his pleasure with Cindy. Just to make sure he got the message, she'd write him a letter (another one of those things she had not gotten around to) indicating how disappointed she was that his behavior had led to the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee's finding against him and how, although she could take disciplinary action against him, she would not do so--this time. Yes, he would get the message.

Still, Jeannette had to admit--if only to herself--that bolstering the rejections of Elita and Ann in their up-or-out year was not her only motive for denying early tenure to Barnes. She had another motive: revenge. She still couldn't believe how that smug Scott Halpern had turned down her offer of the Public Policy Institute directorship and instant tenure, preferring to stay in a tenure track position at Princeton. That bastard had gotten his Ph.D. at M.I.T. So had Barnes. Well, if someone from M.I.T. turned down NDU, it seemed only poetic justice that NDU should reciprocate by turning down someone from M.I.T. She realized, of course, that nobody from M.I.T. would ever know that she had deliberately retaliated against it in this way. But that didn't matter. She knew, and that's what counted!

Yes, Jeannette thought, it was good to have all that settled in her mind. So much for the P&T cases. Next on the list was finding someone to serve as the acting director of the Public Policy Institute next year. This, she knew, would be a thankless task--especially if George insisted on running another national search for a permanent director which everyone would know was unlikely to select the internal acting director. An appointment of a prominent figure from outside would generate far more positive media coverage for NDU than the appointment of somebody already here. And positive media coverage of NDU was what George wanted.

Jeannette knew that the acting director of the Public Policy Institute had to possess three qualifications: 1) some knowledge of public policy issues; 2) some administrative ability to get the damn thing running; and 3) a sufficiently biddable nature which would not protest at being pushed out of the job once a permanent director from outside was found, but which would stick at it until then. Oh, and there was one more thing: the acting director could not have been a member of the search committee this year. That would look bad.

Who could she find at NDU who met all these qualification? Jeannette smiled to herself. The choice was obvious: Ruth Silverstein, chair of the Political Science Department. And Jeannette knew she had a strong incentive to offer to Ruth. If Ruth accepted the acting directorship of the institute, Jeannette would agree to convert her one-year acting chairmanship of the department, which was just about to expire, into a regular four-year appointment. Since she would be doing both jobs at the same time, her salary would be raised accordingly. More importantly, her being department chair would also provide Ruth with something to go back to when her services as acting director of the institute were no longer required.

In fact, the more Jeannette thought about it, the more she had to acknowledge her brilliance in picking Ruth for the acting directorship. The main opposition to the new Public Policy Institute came from two sources: 1) the public administrators (including Ruth) inside the Political Science Department who feared the Institute would encroach on their turf, and 2) Dean Dominic DiSola who feared that CAS would lose future faculty appointments to it. Whatever the merits of the department's fears, the dean's (she knew) were accurate--and hence more of a danger. By appointing her as acting director, Jeannette anticipated that Ruth would succeed in persuading the public administrators into actually supporting the Institute out of the belief that they would come to control it (something, of course, Jeannette had no intention of actually allowing to happen). Further, as an institute director (even if only an acting one), Ruth's administrative rank would be equal to that of a dean--including her own Dean DiSola, to whom she reported as a department chair. This was a situation that was practically guaranteed to cause tensions between Dominic and Ruth--tensions which Jeannette could take advantage of.

Well now, was that everything? Had she correctly calculated how all the parties involved would react to her various moves? Elita White and Ann Sweezy would howl with protest at being denied tenure, but denying it to Robert Barnes too would checkmate them. Ruth Silverstein would be delighted at receiving the acting directorship of the Institute--thus providing her with an incentive, Jeannette realized, for not opposing Jeannette's decisions regarding either Ann or Rob. And, thanks to his little peccadilloes with that Cindy having been revealed, Rob would just have to lay back and take it (albeit less pleasurably than Cindy had done from him, she was sure). Besides, unlike Elita and Ann, Rob could go up for tenure again. She even anticipated recommending him for tenure the next time he applied. If, that is, she was still at NDU.

All that remained now was for George Michaelson to sign off on her recommendations. But she didn't anticipate any opposition from him. Since he was the one demanding that she find an acting director for the Public Policy Institute, she doubted that he would disagree with her choice of Ruth Silverstein. Nor would be gainsay her on turning down both Elita White and Ann Sweezy for tenure. They were just the type he wanted to rid NDU of. He might react negatively to turning down Rob Barnes for early tenure. But she'd convince him that it was a necessary move if he really wanted to get rid of the likes of Ann and Elita. Besides, George would never want it to appear that her standards were higher than his own.

Yes, Jeannette thought, she had it all figured out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chapter 14

As was his custom, Rob Barnes arrived at his office a little before 8:30 a.m.--long before any student was likely to come by. It was the Thursday before the week-long spring break--Rob's last teaching day before it--so he didn't expect a very large attendance anyway.

Rob was feeling good that mid-March morning. He had found it very difficult to concentrate on his research after that horrible `unwanted' poster had appeared last semester. He thought it had all blown over when the Post article describing the problems with the `unwanted' posters came out last December, but there had been that ridiculous Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee he had been called before at the beginning of the spring semester.

But things were going a lot better now. It had been a pleasant surprise to find that he had a strong and forceful ally in Charles Gibson who had been his liaison to the P&T committee. Needing such a friend, Rob thought ruefully, was not something he had anticipated at the beginning of last semester. Though not unanimous, he had received a strong vote from the P&T committee. And just last week he received a copy of the memo from Dean DiSola recommending him for promotion and tenure. His case was now before the provost. Rob anticipated no problems there, especially now that his second book was actually out and was receiving some favorable publicity.

He had written an op-ed piece summarizing the book's conclusions which was published by the Los Angeles Times. He had also appeared on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer." Even more than the book, these had led to a number of reporters calling to interview him.

The attention he was getting, of course, was nothing like what his old grad school rival, Scott Halpern, was getting. Rob had become a regular guest on the CBS Evening News, where he seemed to appear at least once a week commenting on events in Russia. And as far as Rob could tell, at least half these interviews with him were conducted in Moscow. How did he manage to get funding for all these trips?

Still, he tried not to dwell on Scott. Life, after all, was not a zero sum game. Scott's success was not hindering him in any way. In fact, the best news Rob had gotten in a while had arrived on Tuesday, when the managing editor of Foreign Affairs had called him asking for an article extending the argument in his new book. Rob had to have it in by the end of March to be considered for the next issue, and so had canceled his planned trip to Boston for spring break in order to write it. But canceling the trip would be worth it, he knew, since an article in Foreign Affairs would get far more attention than his book, and would--more than anything else--enable him to move on from NDU. But thanks to getting tenure here, as now seemed certain, he would be in a strong position to be hired with tenure by a "real" university. He would begin working on this in earnest this coming summer and fall.

It would be great, he thought, if he could start somewhere else next fall, but he knew it was too late for that; hiring at the senior level for next fall was already over and done with. With any luck, next year would be his last here at NDU. In the meantime, though, he would continue the very interesting--and very lucrative--consulting arrangement he had made with Johnny Chang and his firm, Mack & Monk, at the beginning of last semester.

Rob turned on his office computer (which was two generations out of date--one more reason why he hated being at NDU). As usual, he checked his e-mail first. There were only three messages: the first was a "university announcement," the second from Ruth Silverstein--probably to the department as a whole, and the third also from Ruth. All were dated yesterday.

Rob opened the "university announcement" first. It was yet another of these one-day-in-advance notices of a candidate for the directorship of the new Public Policy Institute coming through. Rob had not recognized the names of any of the previous four or bothered to attend their presentations. He thought he'd just look at this message long enough to see if he recognized the candidate...

Holy shit! It was Scott Halpern! And he was coming through today!

How could this be? Scott didn't even have tenure! Was it the same Scott? The brief bio on him indicated that he received his Ph.D. in political science from M.I.T., that he was teaching at Princeton, and that he was a regular consultant on Russian issues for CBS. Yes, it was the same Scott.

After the bio came his schedule for the day. He was having breakfast with the search committee. He was then scheduled to meet President Michaelson, and afterward with Provost Bobier. Rob then saw that he was listed as meeting with the Political Science Department faculty at noon. This would be followed by lunch at 1:00 with the university professors. At 2:0, he would make his academic presentation--which, the message practically gushed, would be covered by C-SPAN. At 3:00, he would meet with the deans of the various colleges and schools. At 4:00, he would make an "administrative presentation." There were then meetings with members of the Board of Trustees, and afterward a by-invitation-only dinner. Good God!

The next message, from Ruth Silverstein, urged the entire department faculty to attend the noon meeting with Scott Halpern, the candidate for the Public Policy Institute directorship, who had specifically asked to meet with them. Various "higher-ups" from the administration, "whom we definitely do not want to give a bad impression of our department to," would also be attending, she noted.

The third message, also from Ruth, asked Rob whether he knew Scott and, since his morning class ended at 11:45, requested that he please go straight over to the provost's office afterward to pick Scott up and walk him over to the departmental conference room. "I've already notified the provost's office that you will be collecting him, so let me know if this is a problem for you." Rob sent her a reply saying he'd be delighted to bring Scott over--even though he wasn't.

* * *

Rob looked at his watch. It was five minutes to noon. He had already been sitting in the reception area of the provost's suite of offices for over five minutes now. Even if Scott came out from his meeting with the provost right now, they would be late for his meeting with the Political Science faculty. But that didn't seem to be bothering either Scott or the provost.

Rob had never been here before. The furniture was certainly much nicer than in his department. Everyone seemed to dress up here in Dominion Hall, where the president, the provost, and the various university vice presidents had their offices. But while the staff here might be well dressed, it did not appear to be particularly well mannered, he noted.

When he had first come in to the provost's suite and announced he was here to pick up Scott, the receptionist--a young woman who was obviously either a student or a very recent graduate--said, "Oh yes, Rob, we've been expecting you." Rob was not used to being addressed by his first name by people her age here on campus. But then she continued, "Provost Bobier is still talking with Dr. Halpern." This implied that, unlike Rob, the provost and Scott were important, and therefore were referred to by their titles and last names. Finally, she had said imperiously, "Just have a seat, Rob," as if to emphasize the distinction between him on the one hand and the provost and Scott on the other. Good Lord!

The door to the provost's office finally opened, but the meeting did not appear to be quite over as Scott and the provost were still talking in the doorway. Rob realized that he had never met the provost before. He was surprised that, although obviously in her forties, she was a very attractive woman. Her clothes and jewelry certainly looked expensive. She was looking up into Scott's face, smiling. "It was such a pleasure to meet you after seeing you on the news so often," she said with just a slight trace of a French accent.

"The pleasure was mine!" Scott responded enthusiastically.

"I think it's very generous of you to volunteer to meet with our Political Science faculty. But I hope you won't judge NDU just on them; remember what I told you!"

And just what was that, Rob wondered.

"Has that friend of yours shown up here?" she asked.

Scott looked around and saw Rob. "Yes, there he is!" said Scott jovially. "Hi Rob!"

Rob stood up and went over to them, shaking hands first with Scott and then the provost.

"So you're Rob Barnes," she said in a rather less jovial tone of voice than she had used to address Scott.

Before Rob could respond, Scott said, "Come on, Rob, we've got to hurry!" As if their being late was somehow Rob's fault.

Turning back to Scott, the provost said, "I'll be seeing you again at your presentations. In fact, I'll be introducing you for the one that C-SPAN is filming."

"Great!" said Scott. After the provost and Scott said their good-byes, Rob set off with him to the Political Science Department.

Once they were out of her office suite and on their way, Rob said, "It's been a long time, Scott. I had no idea you were applying for the Public Policy Institute directorship here. Of course, they've kept it all very quiet, only announcing the candidates the day before they each arrive."

"This is kind of a funny place," observed Scott. "I just assumed that this institute they want to start would have a big budget for the director to get it going. But that doesn't seem to be what they have in mind. The president and provost wouldn't come right out and say it, but they seem to expect whoever is the new director to raise most of the institute's funds. That's not exactly how I want to spend my time. I mean, why the hell would I ever leave Princeton for NDU unless NDU guaranteed me a big annual budget?"

"I see your point," commented Rob. "Did they say anything about whether you'd come here with tenure?"

"Oh yeah, of course," replied Scott. "They said they'd have your department give it to me."

"Oh really?" asked Rob.

"Yeah, and speaking of your department," Scott continued, "it appears to be on the shit list. Both George and Jeannette had a few negative things to say about it. It seems that as a group, you guys aren't fulfilling your quota."

"George and Jeannette?" asked Rob.

Scott laughed. "Surely you jest, Rob! George Michaelson and Jeannette Bobier--your president and provost! I know you like to burrow in and focus on your own work to the exclusion of everything else, but surely you've heard of them!" Scott laughed some more.

"Of course," said Rob sheepishly. "It's just that nobody here refers to them just by their first names."

"They insisted that I do," said Scott.

"Is there anything else annoying them about the Poli Sci Department?" asked Rob.

"They seem to think that your chair (Ruth is it?) and the public administration types have complained about how they weren't consulted about the formation of the Public Policy Institute. They also seem to think that they're going to be taken out of Poli Sci, which George and Jeannette say they pretty much control, and put inside the Institute which they won't."

This was news to Rob. Scott was right: he just concentrated on his own career. He interacted with other faculty in his department who taught international relations, but had not bothered to get to know any of the public administrators--unless, of course, like Trond before and Ruth now they happened to be the chair of the department.

"That's why I asked to speak to your department," Scott continued. "I'm going to reassure them that if I become director of the new institute, I'm not going to do anything to take them or their MPA program away from the department. The truth of the matter, though, is that if they really are the losers that George and Jeannette say they are, I wouldn't want them in my Institute anyway!"

Rob thought there was a lot of dead wood in the Poli Sci department, especially among the public administrators, but he really didn't like hearing Scott ridicule them. It implied that he held Rob in low regard just for being in the same department with them.

"Jeannette also told me," Scott said knowingly, "that you have quite a reputation as a lady's man around here."

"What?" asked Rob, dumbfounded.

"Yeah, she told me that some pretty little thing came in to see her just a few weeks ago to defend you against something or other. What was that all about, Rob?" Scott asked knowingly.

Was this never going to end, Rob wondered. There was some young woman out there who had filed some sort of complaint against him, but who then wanted to withdraw it--and the university wouldn't let her! He wished she would just come and talk to him; maybe together they could get the whole thing resolved. He wondered who she could be, but Rob really had no idea.

Well, even if he didn't know who she was, at least the provost now did--and presumably would believe her. Rob, though, was unhappy that Provost Bobier had been indiscreet enough to say anything about this matter to Scott.

"It's all about nothing," said Rob in answer to Scott's question.

"Oh, don't play dumb with me!" teased Scott. "I remember how when we were T.A.'s back at M.I.T., you always had a flock of Wellesley girls in your sections." Wellesley was M.I.T.'s sister school. The Wellesley women taking classes at M.I.T. were always readily distinguishable from their M.I.T. sisters. Whereas the Wellesley women usually wore dresses, jewelry, even make-up, the M.I.T. women dressed much the same as the M.I.T. men.

"By the way, how are your T.A.'s here?" Scott asked.

Rob had hoped Scott would not ask this. "I don't have any," he replied weakly.

"What?" cried Scott incredulously. "Who does your grading for you?"

"We don't have a Ph.D. program in political science. So I have to do it myself."

"Good Lord! And what's your teaching load here?"

Rob had been dreading this question even more. "Three and three," he responded.

"I can't believe it!" shouted Scott. "The heaviest load I've ever taught at Princeton is two and two--sometimes it's just been two and one. Rob, old boy, you have fallen far!"

Now Rob's back was up. "I don't know about that," he responded. "It's only my third year here and I'm just about to get tenure. Once I do, I'll be on the job market next fall for a tenured position somewhere else. Everyone knows that schools like Princeton chew up assistant professors for six years and then spit them out, forcing them to take assistant professorships somewhere else and start the tenure process all over again."

Scott looked at Rob quizzically. "Yes, that can happen," he admitted. "But it's also possible to get tenure at Princeton. And even if you don't, the school you move to you will often give you tenure right away. I mean, look at me here--being considered for a tenured position at NDU. A tenure track assistant professor like me would never be considered for it if I wasn't at Princeton or a school like it.

"Let's say we were both up for tenure this year at our respective schools and we were both turned down," Scott continued. "I think it would be a hell of a lot easier for me to get a tenured position somewhere else after being turned down by Princeton than it would be for you after being turned down by NDU."

This was not what Rob wanted to hear. "Well, since I'm in the final stages of getting tenure here, that doesn't apply to me," he snapped.

They both walked in silence for a few moments. Rob realized that he had sounded too defensive. "That's our building just up ahead," he commented. "Tell me, Scott: will you take the job if they offer it to you here?"

"Just between you and me," Scott replied, "George and Jeannette already have."

Rob wondered: did Scott ever fail at anything?

"But also just between you and me," Scott continued, "I'm not going to take it. It would take years to get the Public Policy Institute up and running, and that's just not how I want to spend my time. So I'll just be going through the motions for the rest of the day. Still, it won't be a total loss--thanks to Jeannette arranging for C-SPAN to cover my talk this afternoon. And it sure won't hurt me back at Princeton when it gets around that I was offered an institute directorship here."

"I see," said Rob.

"By the way," asked Scott as they entered the building. "I see your new book came out. What are you working on now?"

Trying to keep his pride from showing, Rob told him how Foreign Affairs had asked him to write an article for the upcoming issue.

"That's great!" said Scott. "They had asked me for one too, but I had to tell them I have too much on my plate for the next issue."

He always has to be one up, thought Rob. They had now arrived at the Political Science Department's conference room where Rob handed Scott off to Ruth Silverstein. Rob was surprised to see that the room was practically full; there were several people from outside the department whom he did not recognize. There being no places at the long board room style table in the center of the room, Rob took a seat along the wall.

He tried to follow Scott's talk, but couldn't concentrate on it. All he could think about was that since his next class was at 1:30, he hoped Scott would finish early enough so that he could grab something to eat beforehand.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chapter 13

Dean Dominic DiSola entered the main office of the College of Arts and Sciences from the corridor of University Hall. Waiting for him there, as he expected, was Jacob Cohen--full professor of English, but more importantly for today's meeting, chair of the CAS Promotion and Tenure committee. The committee had met last Friday, and Jacob was bringing him the final memos on each of the ten cases it had considered. Even more important for Dominic, though, would be the "after action" account of the committee discussion that Jacob was here to provide.

"Come on into my office," said Dominic. He shut his door after ushering Jacob in. "Please sit down. I'm sorry I'm late. I was just at the presentation being made by the first of these candidates being considered for the directorship of the new Public Policy Institute."

Dominic shook his head. "What a turkey! Someone on the search committee told me that he had glowing letters of recommendations from his colleagues at NYU where he is now. From what I can tell, they must have said great things about him in order to palm him off on us and be rid of him themselves."

"Oh, yeah," responded Jacob. "I got the e-mail notice sent out yesterday about his coming. I wonder how much the provost is paying that headhunting firm coordinating the search for us. And why all the mystery about the candidates, only identifying each the day before he or she actually arrives?"

"Jeannette really has hyped this," observed Dominic, referring to the provost. "Maybe it's because she doesn't want anyone to have enough time to find out what losers these people are before they arrive."

"It sounds like this guy today unmasked himself," said Jacob.

"That's for sure!" laughed Dominic. He looked at his watch. "I'm booked up solid with appointments this afternoon, so let's get down to business."

"Right," said Jacob, pulling out the memos from the manila envelope he had brought them in. "As you know, we had ten cases altogether--three for promotion to full professor, seven for tenure.

"The committee voted unanimously in favor," Jacob continued, "of the three going up for full. Four of the seven tenure cases also received unanimous approval. The committee was, to a greater or lesser extent, divided on the remaining three tenure cases."

"Let's focus on those," said Dominic. There was little point in discussing the others since he was hardly going to recommend against any of the cases which had received unanimous approval from the P&T committee.

"Right," said Jacob. "The three split votes occurred with regard to Rob Barnes and Ann Sweezy from Political Science and Elita White from History. Rob's vote was seven in favor and two against; Ann's was four in favor, three against, and one absence; and Elita's was three in favor, four against, and one absence."

Dominic looked quizzical. "Why the absences in the latter two cases? There's nobody from Political Science or History on the committee this year, is there? Of course, if someone from Poli Sci was on it, there should have been an absence recorded for Barnes too."

"No, nobody from those departments is on the committee this year," Jacob confirmed. "I'm afraid it's a bit of a complicated story."

"Maybe I'd better just let you tell it, then," commented Dominic.

"Right," said Jacob. "Although they were mixed in with the others, I'll talk about them in the order they occurred vis-a-vis one another.

"That means starting first with Robert Barnes. The `vital statistics' are as follows: the vote of the tenured faculty in his department was thirteen in favor, two against, and one abstention; the chair was in favor (though her letter was lukewarm); and the P&T committee vote was seven in favor and two against."

"What was the argument of those opposed to Barnes in the committee?" asked Dominic. "Did they bring up this `unwanted' poster business from last semester?"

"That was not discussed," responded Jacob. "And the reason why is because at our organizational meeting at the end of last semester, Charles Gibson insisted on being Barnes's liaison. Gibson himself, as you know, later became the target of one of those posters--which was why the university stopped any more from being published. When we met last week, nobody else was willing to raise the subject in committee--especially after Gibson himself made an impassioned speech describing Barnes as the innocent victim of a malicious radical feminist conspiracy."

"How did that go over with the rest of the committee?" asked Dominic.

"If anybody else had said it," responded Jacob, "I think there would have been a huge furor. Between you and me, I think that virtually no white professor is willing to challenge a black professor who makes an impassioned statement. There were three women in the room whom I knew wanted to, but none of them did. Each, I'm sure, was hoping one of the others would, but none was willing to risk being denounced by Gibson as a racist for openly disagreeing with him. And considering that Gibson saw himself as the victim of such a conspiracy, he just might have reacted this way if anyone had challenged him on Barnes."

Dominic was very familiar with this reluctance on the part of white professors to openly challenge black ones in meetings for fear of being denounced by them as racist. It was a reluctance that he shared.

"Gibson," continued Jacob, "then presented a strong case for giving Barnes tenure based on his stellar research record. Nobody could point to any deficiency there. In fact, I suspect that Barnes has published more than most people here who already do have tenure. To tell you the truth, he made a very convincing case."

"There were two members of the committee, though, whom he obviously didn't convince," observed Dominic. "Did they present a case for why Barnes shouldn't get tenure? There's no need to mention the names of the people who made the argument--I just need know to what their argument was for when I write up my own memo."

"It was basically the standard old guard position," Jacob replied. "They argued that almost everyone (including themselves) who had been awarded tenure here at NDU had only gone up in their sixth year as an assistant professor. They had put in their dues, and so Barnes should too. They referred to Ruth Silverstein's letter stating that while she supported Barnes, she would have preferred him to go up later after proving himself a good university citizen through the performance of his share of service.

"Gibson pooh-poohed this argument," Jacob continued, "saying that while tenure may have been granted mainly on the basis of service in the past here, a strong research record was now essential if NDU was going to sustain, much less enhance, its growing reputation. One of the old guard actually said to Gibson that that was well and fine for him to say as a university professor who could more easily do research thanks to the lesser teaching and service load than the rest of us carry."

"How did Gibson respond to that?"

"Actually, quite thoughtfully," said Jacob. "He said he understood why university professors might be resented by others here. But he said that we shouldn't take it out on Barnes, who is, after all, an assistant professor who has managed to excel despite the constraints faced by the regular faculty. He even said that for someone like Barnes to be highly productive in terms of research was more of an accomplishment than for someone like himself after becoming a university professor."

"That was quite decent of him," remarked Dominic. "Was anything else said either for or against Barnes?"

"No, I don't think that there were any other points raised," responded Jacob. "We later turned to Sweezy's case. Her vital statistics are: thirteen for, two against, and one abstention in the department (the same as Barnes); a favorable recommendation from the chair (warmer, actually, than Barnes got); and four in favor, three against, and one absence in the P&T committee."

"An absence, not an abstention?" queried Dominic.


As they both knew, the difference was important. An abstention was counted as a negative vote while an absence was regarded as neutral. "Technically, then," said Dominic, "that should be recorded as 4-3-0-1," reflecting the usual order in which votes for, votes against, abstentions, and absences were recorded.

"Right," said Jacob again. "That's what I actually have here."

"Good. So what happened?"

"It was very odd. She came under attack from Gibson for having a weak research record--which indeed she has. He said that academics typically publish less after receiving tenure than before it when they face a stronger incentive to do so. And since Sweezy has published so little when she had the incentive to get tenure, he said, we could reasonably expect that she would publish nothing at all when she no longer had that incentive. He then asked us if that was what we really wanted.

"Well, you know how it is," Jacob continued. "When someone on the P&T committee condemns a candidate for a poor research record--and especially when the person doing so is someone as senior as Gibson--nobody wants to step forward and say, `Actually, I think her research record is pretty good.' It would be tantamount to saying, `My standards are lower than yours, and you should accept mine.'"

"Four people ended up voting for her," Dominic observed. "Did any of them make a case for her?"

"Her liaison did," said Jacob. "She acknowledged that Sweezy had not done a lot of research, but had met the minimum standards of her department with the publication of a book. Gibson quickly pointed out that it was only a scholarly commercial press with a reputation for not being terribly selective that was publishing it.

"Sweezy's liaison then went on to argue that the real case for her being awarded tenure was her outstanding service record. She then started to list Ann's accomplishments in this realm. And here is the strange part: when she mentioned that Sweezy was now serving in her third year on the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee, Gibson blew up.

"He said that he'd been hauled before what he termed `that kangaroo court' just recently. He hadn't paid much attention to the names of the people serving on it when they were introduced at the beginning of the session. He also said that except for the person he was serving as liaison for, he had not bothered to read the sections on service in the other dossiers we were considering, focusing instead on research records and letters from external referees. If he had known Sweezy had been on this committee which he held in such low regard, he said, he would have recused himself before her case was even discussed. Now that he did know, he continued, he would recuse himself before we voted on her--and then he walked out of the room, telling me to call him back in after we had done so."

"Wow!" said Dominic. "So he had no idea that he had just encountered her? He hadn't ever crossed paths with her before?" Now that he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and was responsible for overseeing all the departments within it, Dominic was constantly amazed at how little the faculty from different departments interacted with or even knew about one another. People whose departments were located in the same building might never converse with each other even once in their careers unless they happened to serve together on a CAS or university-wide committee--and maybe not even then. There certainly would not be anything to draw together a renowned university professor specializing in African-American literature like Gibson with a low-level assistant professor who combined public administration and women's studies like Sweezy.

"No, he had never been aware of meeting her, and had not recognized her from the parts of her dossier that he had read," said Jacob. "Well, even though Gibson left the room, we had all heard the damning case he had made against her. One of the old guard made the case that Sweezy had put in her dues like the rest of them, and so had earned tenure despite what any university professor might say. There wasn't much additional discussion and so we proceeded with the vote."

"I see," said Dominic. "And what was the story with Elita White?"

"I'm especially familiar with this case," said Jacob, "since I served as her liaison." In response to Dominic's raised eyebrows, he added, "Nobody else volunteered." Considering all the time-consuming work that being chair of the P&T committee involved, its occupant was traditionally exempt from the burden of serving as a liaison.

"Her vital statistics," Jacob continued, "were six for, six against, and one abstention when the tenured history professors voted, and a favorable recommendation from her chair.

"But when I interviewed the chair" (part of the duty of being a liaison was to interview both the candidate and the chair of the candidate's department before the P&T committee meeting), "he indicated that she was an extremely difficult person to deal with, and that he would not be sad if she was denied tenure."

"Why didn't he recommend against her in his memo then?" asked Dominic.

"I asked him that," said Jacob. "He hemmed and hawed, but didn't really give me a straight answer. I had the strong impression, though, that he anticipates her filing a lawsuit if she is denied tenure. He may have calculated that with such a weak vote from the tenured faculty, she'll never make it past the P&T committee, you, or the provost. Thus, we'd do the dirty work of axing her for him, but he would avoid being included in her lawsuit by virtue of his giving her a positive recommendation."

"And again, how did your committee vote on her?"

"Three in favor, four against, and one absence--Gibson again," replied Jacob.

"How did the discussion go?"

"Since I was her liaison, and since I had read her entire dossier," Jacob began, "I was able to state right away that White was also a member of the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee, and so I asked Gibson if he wanted to recuse himself in this case too.

"Gibson said that he would absent himself from the voting," Jacob continued, "but that he thought he should say something about her both because he had, after all, talked a lot about Sweezy before leaving the room and because he had some familiarity with this particular candidate and that it was his duty to tell what he knew. He then said something very surprising."

"It seems he was full of surprises that day," remarked Dominic.

"He told us," Jacob said, "that he really didn't hold it against either White or Sweezy for being a member of the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee--especially since Elita had telephoned him the Monday after his hearing to say that the committee had decided in his favor, that she had gotten him off the hook, that she was his black sister, and as Gibson put it, `a lot of other shit like that.'

"Gibson went on to say that Elita hadn't fooled him. He suspected she was calling less out of sympathy for him than because she knew, he was sure, that he was on the P&T committee. Once he'd thought about it, he said that he actually had more respect for Ann Sweezy for not pulling a stunt like that.

"Gibson then pointed out that White's research record was even weaker than Sweezy's. He stated that he was intimately familiar with the African-American studies field, and that the publications in which White's few articles appeared were not scholarly, and that her own work could only be described as polemical. I, of course, had read them myself: he was right.

"He then said that she was an extremely difficult and unpleasant person to deal with, and that he doubted her personality would improve much if she were awarded tenure. He also said that for a university to grant tenure to a candidate as weak as Elita White would be the height of what he called `white liberal condescension'--and then he left."

"In body if not in spirit," remarked Dominic. "Were any arguments presented in her favor?"

"Well, I pointed out that, like Sweezy, White has a strong service record. In addition, she does enjoy a following among African-American female students--something that the university likes, considering what a poor retention rate we have for this group. And, of course, her being here contributes to diversity among the faculty. That was about it."

Dominic wondered whether, despite making these arguments in her favor, Jacob had actually voted for her. Unlike the recommendations made by department chairs, the CAS dean, and the provost which were statements made by individuals that the candidate would see, the votes of the tenured faculty in a department as well as in the college P&T committee were conducted in secret. Each P&T candidate would see how the committee voted as well as its memo to the dean, but nobody voting against a candidate had to acknowledge having done so to him or her. Dominic would have loved to ask Jacob how he voted, but such a question would definitely be unethical.

"I guess that wraps it up," said Jacob. "When do you have to make your recommendations by?"

"My recommendations are due to the provost by the end of this month," replied Dominic. "The provost's recommendations to the president are due at the end of March. The president is supposed to make his final decisions by the end of April, and then those he approves are presented for ratification to the Board of Trustees in May."

"Right," said Jacob as he got up to leave. "I don't envy you having to decide these three cases."

"Thanks for all your hard work, Jacob. You don't have to worry about them any more. At least I have a little time to think about the three cases your committee was divided on," said Dominic as he ushered Jacob out.

Dominic, though, had already made up his mind about them. He would approve all three for tenure, but for different reasons. Barnes was a star--and the college sorely needed stars. Sweezy was just a grunt--but the college needed competent grunts, too. And as for White--well, Dominic also wanted to avoid being named in a lawsuit. If the provost wanted to ax her (and he knew from past experience that Jeannette Bobier was highly likely to), then she could face the storm Elita would raise without him.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chapter 12

Ann Sweezy came back into Ellen Stenkovsky's office with a cup of coffee in a paper cup. A Styrofoam cup would have been much easier to carry, but that would not have been environmentally correct. Ellen had also returned, as had Elita White--the African-American African-American history professor. Ann was glad she wasn't last. They were just waiting now on Maurice--the contemporary theater professor who was also African-American. Both Ann and Maurice were usually late both to the beginnings and the resumptions of meetings. But while Ann always felt a little guilty about this, Maurice never seemed to notice that he was late. Ann admired his self-confidence.

This was Maurice's first year of his three-year membership on the committee. It was Elita's second year, and Ann's third. The three of them were all tenure track professors, but since Ann had been on the committee the longest, she was the senior faculty member this year and thus officially the chair. Ellen, though, dealt with all the logistics of the committee and, in truth, actually ran it. It was a late January Friday just before the week spring semester classes began.

Ellen seemed preoccupied with paper work while Elita, as usual, had a grim expression on her face which did not invite conversation. Ann, then, silently mused about her own situation while sipping her coffee and waiting for Maurice.

Ann would be sad when her three year term on the committee came to an end with the close of the current academic year. But if she was denied tenure and had both to appeal the decision as well as search for another job next year, she wouldn't have any spare time to devote to the committee anyway. So far, she thought, things were still on track. The vote of the tenured faculty on her case had been thirteen for, two against, and one abstention. This was obviously less favorable than a unanimous vote in her favor, but at least it was the same, she had been told, as Barnes had gotten. In addition, Ruth Silverstein had written a very positive chair's memo for her. She wondered, though, how it compared with the one Silverstein wrote for Barnes.

After the long winter break, both their dossiers now advanced to the promotion and tenure committee of the College of Arts and Sciences--which, Ann understood from her liaison to the committee, would probably meet next Friday, the last day of the first week of classes. Ann was glad that she was a habitual saver and filer. She had recently looked back through her fall semester collection of What's New at NDU, the faculty/staff information newsletter, and saw that Charles Gibson was a member of the college P&T committee. For once, she had succeeded in not revealing this bit of intelligence to anyone else on the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee. With any luck, he would not remember that he had encountered her here when the P&T committee met next week.

The fact that she served on the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee was noted in her dossier. She wondered, though, how thoroughly each P&T committee member could read each of the thick dossiers being considered in addition to the dossier that they each had to become very familiar with when serving as the liaison who presented the case to the committee.

In any event, Ann had not said anything to provoke Gibson this morning. Indeed, she was inclined to side with his version of events. But this was not, she assured herself, because he was on the P&T committee. It had, however, been a grueling morning. But then, the deliberations of the Sexual Assault Complaint Review Committee always were.

Maurice came into the room with a can of Diet Coke. "I'm not late, am I?" he asked jovially. "Whew! Nobody told me just how intense this committee was going to be! I'm glad we didn't have any more cases to deal with!"

Ellen looked up from her writing. "Okay, let's get started again," she said in a very serious voice. "Let me remind you of the differences between these two cases, and what we're expected to do now.

"The first complaint we heard this morning was a formal complaint lodged by a student, Genevieve Lacouture, against a professor, Charles Gibson. Because it was a formal complaint, the complainant herself was here to state her grievances against Professor Gibson and he had the opportunity to challenge her--which, I am sure you recall, he did."

"Yes, I think we all recall that," interrupted Maurice. "It was quite a shouting match they had!"

"The second complaint we heard," continued Ellen, ignoring the interruption, "was an informal complaint. This procedure is allowed when the complainant does not wish to reveal her name to the accused."

"I really have to admit," commented Maurice, "that I have some problems with that. Doesn't that sort of violate the whole notion of due process? Right to face one's accuser and all that?"

"I realize, Maurice, that this is your first year on the committee," responded Ellen condescendingly. "As I tried to explain to Professor Barnes earlier, universities enjoy special legal status to govern and adjudicate their own internal affairs. Because there are usually no third party witnesses to sexual assault cases, observing the patriarchal legalism requiring the victim of sexual assault to actually prove it occurred places an undue and unfair burden on her. It is the presumption at this and other progressive universities that sexual assault victims do not file complaints frivolously or maliciously. Indeed, there is reason to believe that they usually do not file complaints at all. When they do, then, they must be taken seriously. The fact that the complaint is an informal one does not detract from the seriousness of the charge. An informal complaint places even more of a burden on the committee than a formal one to question the accused on behalf of a victim fearing retaliation.

"It is now our responsibility," Ellen continued, "to reflect on each case and to draft a memo to the Provost stating our findings. Let's start with the Gibson case since we heard that one first. Since you're the chair, Ann, would you like to begin?"

After expressing what Ann felt was a sufficient number of self-deprecating remarks proclaiming that being chair shouldn't entitle her to speak first and that she wanted to hear the views of her colleagues, she noted that Ellen really ran the committee anyway so she may as well speak first after all. She also noted that her two previous years on the committee might have given her some additional experience to put this particular case in perspective. After all this, Ann paused. "It's difficult to know what to say about this particular case. I must confess that it's very unusual for me to see two people of color so adamantly opposed to each other."

"Not for me!" said Maurice. "I see it all the time! Ha! Ha! Ha!"

A hissing noise appeared to issue from Elita.

Maurice may be both African-American and gay, thought Ann, but he still had what she considered to be some annoyingly male characteristics. She wondered if he was part white. "It seems to me," Ann continued, "that while Professor Gibson did say something a little...untoward...and that the student understandably felt...offended, it appears to me that she just may have overreacted somewhat. And I do think Professor Gibson made a strong case that her charge against him was being manipulated by racist elements to attack not just him but all African-American professors."

"Oh, come on!" said Maurice. "He's just trying to hide behind the fact that he's black. He didn't deny telling Genevieve that if she wanted a higher grade, she should wear a shorter skirt. In fact, he admitted saying it when he claimed it was just a joke."

Elita hissed again. "This case should never have been brought before this committee," she pronounced. "It should have been dealt with quietly by the Minority Affairs Office."

"And why's that?" asked Maurice. "Just because the two parties involved are African-American? Whether the charge is valid or not, it is about sexual assault, not racial discrimination."

Continuing not to look at Maurice, Elita stated tersely, "This is a case that should be dealt with inside the African-American community. It should never have been aired to outsiders who want to use it both to discredit and divide African-Americans. This Lacouture girl can never be forgiven for writing graffiti about Brother Gibson in a woman's bathroom knowing full well that white racists would publish it in the student paper! She even admitted that she did it! I just wonder what she was offered to betray her own kind."

"Oh, come on, Elita!" responded Maurice. "Genevieve just complained about Gibson the same way a lot of other young women complained about their sexual assailants here. There was no great white conspiracy to find this girl and pay her to write something false about Gibson."

Elita, again refusing to look at Maurice, hissed again. "I don't know that that is what happened," she said, "but you don't know that it didn't!"

"From what Genevieve told me," Ellen interjected, "she did go first with her complaint to the Minority Affairs Office. But once they realized who she was complaining about, they threw her out..."

"Just what they should have done," muttered Elita.

"...and so she came here," continued Ellen. "As we all know, there are a number of offices on campus that can take complaints about sexual assault. I, of course, would prefer that they all come here, but the way it works is that whatever office gets it has the responsibility to investigate. Whatever this or any other office receiving such a complaint decides, though, all report to the provost who then makes the final determination about guilt as well as disciplinary action. Were you going to say anything more, Ann?"

"Well," she began slowly, taken slightly by surprise at this sudden opportunity to try once again to reassert control over the conversation, "I think really what we have here is a case of... miscommunication. Professor Gibson made a joke, the student thought he was serious and reacted accordingly. I just think Genevieve misunderstood his meaning."

"Au contraire!" said Maurice, "I think she understood his meaning all too well!"

"Nobody who is not an African-American can possibly judge whether or not two African-Americans did or did not understand each other," pronounced Elita.

Ann knew this was a jab at her. She was mystified. Wasn't it obvious that Ann and Elita had expressed similar views on this case, and so should be allies? Ann had tried repeatedly to befriend her when Elita first came on to the committee last year, but all her attempts were rebuffed. Elita seemed to regard all whites as enemies. Didn't she understand that Ann was a liberal and a progressive who consistently supported and spoke out for the rights of people of color? Why didn't Elita appreciate this?

"On the other hand," Elita continued, "nobody who isn't female can tell whether or not another female is being honest when she claims she's been sexually assaulted. It's obvious to me that this Genevieve is just a little black rich bitch who’s turned her back on her own."

"That's pretty strong stuff, Elita," commented Maurice. "Would you care to explain how you arrived at that conclusion?”

Elita appeared to be profoundly affronted. Still not looking at Maurice but with an obvious effort to keep her voice under control, she replied, "It's perfectly obvious. There's no need for further explanation."

"Perhaps this would be an appropriate time," intervened Ellen, "to take a vote to see if there is a majority on the committee which would recommend disciplinary action against Professor Gibson to the provost. Would anyone approve such a step?"

Only Maurice raised his hand.

"Would anyone oppose this?" Ellen asked.

Both Ann and Elita raised their hands.

"Aren't you voting?" Maurice asked Ellen.

"I don't vote in cases involving faculty members," Ellen responded. "But it is clear that the majority of the faculty on the committee is not willing to recommend disciplinary action in this case. Unless anyone wishes to change her--or his--mind, I will record this as your decision and advise the provost accordingly."

Maurice seemed about to say something, but then just shook his head. "If there's nothing further to say on this matter," Ellen continued, "then I propose we turn to the case of Professor Barnes. Let's start with you, Ann."

After once again going through the obligatory self-deprecation, Ann said, "I think this is a much more serious case. I also think that the negative attitude Barnes displayed here this morning is symptomatic of his arrogance. After all, if that is how he treats other professors, imagine how he must treat his students!"

Barnes had come in with the now famous Washington Post article by Kate Morgan stating that the student identified by a member of the staff as having filed a complaint against him denied it (Ann knew that Ellen was still angry with her for talking to Kate about this). Ellen countered by saying that, on the contrary, a student had come to her with an informal complaint about him, and that there was even a witness--the student's roommate.

Barnes had then demanded to know who had filed the complaint. Ellen refused to tell him, stating that the informal complaint process existed for those occasions when a complainant felt "uncomfortable" about revealing her name--possibly, Ellen had pointedly stated, due to fear of retaliation. Barnes then had the effrontery to state that he was being denied due process and that this committee amounted to nothing more than a kangaroo court. He said that he had consulted with an attorney, and that if any action was taken against him on the basis of an anonymous accusation, which he had good reason to believe had either never been filed or had been withdrawn, then he intended to file suit against both the university and each member of the committee individually.

Ellen then explained (rather helpfully, Ann thought) that universities enjoyed a special legal status enabling them to govern and adjudicate their own internal affairs, and that due to sexual assault being an un-witnessed crime, "progressive" universities had abandoned the anachronistic legalism requiring a victim to prove that it had occurred.

Ellen next asked Barnes whether he had ever touched a student "inappropriately" or spoken to any in his office with the door closed. He categorically denied having done the former and stated that he certainly had not done the latter since the publication of what he termed "that damned `unwanted' poster." Whether a student had been in his office with the door closed prior to that occasion he claimed not to remember. Nobody else having any questions for him (actually, Ann did have questions she wanted to pose, but Barnes's demeanor intimidated her--a sure sign of his guilt as far as she was concerned), Ellen declared that the hearing was over. Barnes reiterated his warning about filing suit and then left.

What had upset Ann more than anything else was that Barnes didn't even seem to recognize her. It is true that they didn't have much opportunity to interact as she taught on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule while he taught on the more desirable Tuesday, Thursday schedule. And, as she well knew, he had been away last year. But surely these were not adequate excuses! They had attended some of the same department meetings--though he had not come to all of them the way she had (Ann wondered whether Ruth had taken adequate note of this).

"Well," said Ann, "given the belligerent way in which he addressed the members of this committee, and from what I've seen of his arrogant behavior in our department, I see no reason to doubt the allegations made against him in the informal complaint. Indeed, I can well understand why the student in question would be too intimidated to file a formal complaint in which she would have had to face him."

"Point of order!" said Maurice. "Don't you have something of a conflict of interests here, Ann, in that you’re passing judgment on someone in your own department?"

"We're both tenure track," Ann replied. "He has no say over my future, and I have no say over his--at least within the department. It would be different if one of us had tenure and the other didn't."

Ann was glad that Maurice didn't have any objection to this reasoning. But she was not happy to hear him say, "I have to admit, I sympathize with Barnes. If I first read an anonymous accusation in the student paper that I had inappropriately touched someone (whatever that means!), then read in the Washington Post (no less!) that the student who someone on the staff says filed a complaint against me denies having done so, and then I'm called in to answer questions about a charge that I was led to believe was either never filed or withdrawn, and I couldn't find out who made it, I'd be pretty mad too! In fact, I'd have been a lot more belligerent than Barnes was here!"

"Oh, Maurice! Ellen has already explained how the process works," Ann said with exasperation. "What do you think, Elita?"

"I have no opinion on this case," said Elita perfunctorily.

Now Ann was really upset. She needed at least one person to side with her against Barnes in order for the committee to recommend disciplinary action to the provost.

Ann anguished over how difficult Elita was being. What was wrong with her? Ann had sided with Elita on Gibson. The least Elita could do was to side with Ann about Barnes, she thought.

Ann was desperate. "Did the student who filed the informal complaint against Barnes actually withdraw it?" Ann asked.

The look on Ellen's face immediately told Ann that she had asked the wrong question. She should have coordinated with Ellen on this in advance.

Ellen explained how in fact the complainant had asked to withdraw her complaint, how this occurred frequently in sexual assault cases, and how this and other "progressive" universities ignored these requests and proceeded on the basis of the original complaint. She also expressed her private view that the complainant's near hysteria about Professor Barnes facing negative consequences after being told she could not withdraw her complaint "suggested" to Ellen that an "inappropriate" relationship had developed between them.

Maurice shook his head. "If the complainant has withdrawn her complaint, then I see no reason for us to press it. This is ridiculous!"

Ellen informed him that consensual sex between a professor and student was considered to be just as "offensive" as sexual assault given the favoritism that would naturally arise from such a "conflict of interests."

"I'm sorry," said Maurice, "but there's no case here."

Elita said nothing. "Would you be convinced of the seriousness of the charge against Barnes if further evidence were available?" asked Ellen.

"What evidence?" asked Maurice.

Ann had been dreading this. Ellen had been furious with Ann over showing Tiffany's paper identifying Cindy McMann as the complainant against Rob Barnes to that Post reporter, which led to the fiasco of Cindy denying to Kate that she had filed a complaint against him. Ellen had demanded that Ann present Tiffany's paper (which Ann had, characteristically, told Ellen about), but Ann did not want to do this for fear of it becoming known and finding its way to Barnes. Ellen had accused Ann of talking about the paper so much that Barnes was bound to hear about it, though he had not mentioned anything earlier today. As a peace offering, Ann suggested that the committee not be informed about the paper unless it looked like Barnes would get off, in which case Ann would produce it--which she now did.

After explaining what the document was and how she came by it, both Maurice and Elita read through it quickly (something professors are practiced at doing with student papers). Written by Tiffany when Cindy's complaints against Professor Barnes were quite fresh, the paper made dramatic reading. Maurice, though, was still not convinced that any action should be taken against Barnes. But that didn't matter since Elita was.

"He's obviously insensitive," she pronounced. "He clearly needs some sensitivity training." Ann, Elita, and Ellen all agreed that this was what the committee's memo to the provost should recommend. Although registering his dissent, Maurice did not do so strenuously: recommending sensitivity training did not seem like such a terrible thing anyway. He did not realize, Ann knew and congratulated herself heartily for not revealing, that Barnes was going up for tenure and that the provost would see the committee's memo on this sexual assault matter well before she made her decision on that.

Ann detected a feeling of relief pervade the room as everyone got ready to leave. In that Ann and Elita had ended up being on the same side in both cases after all, and that together they had prevailed, Ann thought that Elita might finally be receptive to a friendly overture from her.

As Maurice and Ellen talked together, Ann went over to Elita and asked, "So tell me: are you working on anything special this year?"

Without looking directly at her, Elita stated simply, "I'm going up for tenure." And then, without asking anything of Ann in return, she picked up her things and left the room.

Her friendly overture had failed. But Ann now had a clearer understanding of why Elita had voted the way she had on the Gibson case.