Saturday, February 13, 2010


Condolences to the community at the U of Alabama, Huntsville.

I'm sort of surprised, though, at how much information about a tenure decision seems to have gotten out before it was official. One of the victim's husbands sounds like he's talking about knowing, though it doesn't sound like he's a tenured member of the department, but maybe that's just the reporting?

Or maybe their confidentiality rules are way different from ours?

None of which changes the basic and utter sadness of the situation.


  1. It really is sad.

    I was wondering today if financial problems prompted the denial? They aren't saying anything about it on the news, but economic problems have lead to cuts in state higher-ed budgets. One way campuses often respond to situations like this is to deny tenure to folks who otherwise would have earned it.

    One thing that does puzzle me is that this wasn't an issue of the faculty member facing financial hardship due to being denied tenure. Apparently, the woman and her husband developed a new kind of petri-dish and it made them a bunch of money.

  2. Well, I read that she was denied tenure and appealed, and then denied again, so I would think there's quite a bit of opportunity for information to leak throughout that process. And I suspect that especially if the process is contentious, as this sounds like it was, the people involved went home and talked to their spouses about it.

  3. At least here, the process is very, very leaky. And I should know ;-)

  4. As for the money - I'm not sure if the process made them money, or provided more seed money for further development. And I also saw a headline somewhere suggesting that the U was keeping the money/project she developed after denying her tenure, but I don't have any idea how accurate that is.

  5. It is sad. And as to confidentiality: spouses often let off steam with one another about what's going on at work. I could imagine that if my spouse had told me something in confidence about a tenure case, and then my spouse had been murdered by the unsuccessful candidate, I would not give a damn about keeping that information confidential. Frankly, I was surprised that the widower had the self-possession to even talk to a reporter.