A professor who was denied tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has vowed to start a hunger strike on February 5 outside the provost’s office.
“I will either see the provost resign and my hard-earned tenure granted at MIT, or I will die defiantly right outside his office,” James L. Sherley, who teaches biological engineering, wrote in a letter to colleagues that he provided to Inside Higher Ed. While not commenting directly on Sherley’s claims, MIT issued a statement that he has been treated fairly.
The article seems to imply (correctly, IMO) that perhaps Dr. Sherley's stance on fetal stem cell research influenced the department's decision to deny him tenure. Tenure proceedings at all universities are famous for their Machiavellian politics in selection. Considering that, once granted, the person chosen for tenure is by definition going to be there for life, it does not seem completely unreasonable to me that the personality and views of a candidate are a real (if unacknowledged) consideration.
The fact that the guy is playing the race card and resorting to a stunt like this also implies that, in my opinion, he's an utterly unreasonable loon. I hope that MIT takes steps to ensure everyone's safety. My alma-mater U of Ark had a professor murdered by a rejected PhD candidate.