CHICAGO (CBS) – An African-American female professor was denied tenure at DePaul. Some of her colleagues claim there’s a culture of exclusion. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports a group of professors are standing beside her, alleging a pattern of institutional racism.
Dr. Quinetta Shelby went to Yale, University of Chicago and University of Illinois. But she was denied tenure at DePaul.
“I have invested the better part of my life building my career at DePaul. Why should you care? Because justice demands it,” said Dr. Quinetta Shelby, DePaul University Asst. Professor of Chemistry.
Shelby’s peers say the tenure denial their colleague faced is a consistent pattern at the university.
“All white faculty, who went up for tenure and promotion, received tenure and promotion, but all of the denials were faculty of color,” said Dr. Valerie Johnson, DePaul Assoc. Professor of Political Science.
“She is qualified. There is no question that she should have been granted tenure,” said Midge Wilson, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul.
DePaul biology student, Tara Miller, says Shelby is the chemistry teacher everyone wants.
“She’s always available for office hours. I’ve honestly asked her questions from my other chem teachers,” Miller said. “She’s really well liked. I’m surprised that she didn’t get tenure.”
The National Science Foundation grant winner went through the year-long tenure application process. When she was denied, a faculty appeals board found the decision should be overturned.
The final decision to deny tenure was left to the university president.
“These things always come down to a set of measures on somebody making a decision on the quality of teaching, the quality of research or the quality of service in the university,” said DePaul University President Fr. Dennis Holtschneider.
In the 2009-2010 school year, out of the 15 faculty of color applying for tenure, six were denied. No whites were denied tenure.
In the 2008-2009 school year, six of the seven tenure denials were either women or people of color.
Nineteen percent of the 919 DePaul faculty are minorities.
Out of the 197 full professors, meaning those at the highest level of tenure, only eight are black at DePaul.
“We have actually a pretty good rate as far as faculty of color getting tenure, until this year,” Holtschneider said. “But this year, all six candidates aren’t, and we can’t wait for a second year to create a pattern. We’ve got to deal with it.”
He says he’s dealing with the issue by putting together a group to look at what universities around the United States do to help professors earn tenure. He wants the ideas gathered to be used at DePaul.