Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Department of Odd Coincidences

So after yesterday's post condemning tenure (again) I get back to work on the talk I am supposed to give on pornography (again) and I drift off onto the internet (again), clicking around to the sites listed on my sitemeter from whence people arrived at Tenured Radical. Eventually, I come up with a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education about:

Pornography and Tenure.

Go ahead. Make my day!

To make a long story short, a married couple out at New Mexico State University was just denied tenure, and they are charging racial bias. What they also reveal, however, was that shortly before they were denied tenure, John -- the husband part of the married couple -- received an e-mail from an associate dean that contained a "graphic sexual image." He complained to the dean; and shortly afterwards, the chair of the couple's department decided that neither member of the couple should receive tenure (in what world does the chair make this decision all by himself?). The implication -- as both the dean and the chair have stepped aside pending an investigation -- is that the two men were in cahoots in the porn e-mail cover-up, and clumsily trying to get rid of the only other people who knew about it. Well almost the only people -- apparently someone else in the department is a witness to the harassing e-porn too. S/he will probably have to be killed, since denying people tenure clearly does not shut them up in New Mexico.

Confusing, isn't it? Almost as confusing as the most recent governor of New York, David A. Paterson, letting us know, minutes after the swearing in, that he and his wife have been having affairs (in an ungentlemanly moment, towards the end of the story, Paterson suggests that Michelle, his wife started it.) And in case you were concerned about it, he did not use campaign funds to rent hotel rooms, only the campaign credit card. And the affairs ended a year or so ago, and everything is alright now in their marriage, thank you very much.

But back to the couple who didn't get tenure in New Mexico. I have to say, I think it was clever of the dean to send the pornography to the husband, not the wife, because it means he can't be charged with sexual harassment. Unless it's gay porn, in which case the dean is way out of luck and should consider being nominated for lieutenant governor of New York, because his academic administrative career is over. And in case you think, because of my last post, that I have lost my sense of humor about tenure (I never lose my sense of humor about pornography), read the comments at the end of the CHE story. Comments, written by ordinary people like you and me who are supposed to be working on a talk or something, are often the best part of odd stories published on line. This is the one that cracked me up: a guy who calls himself Art Vandelay (perhaps because that is his name) writes,

"isn’t that the way it always goes in academe? you open your email and …there it is…porn from your dean. you know what that means: no tenure. that tragic scenario is, unfortunately, repeated hundreds of times each day."


Anonymous said...

TR, "Art Vandelay" is the pseudonym that the character George Costanza (from Seinfeld) would always use whenever he was trying to do something egregiously wrong and/or trying to con a woman into dating him. So, it's even funnier that this person chose "Art Vandelay" to comment on a story that is so strange that it's definitely worthy of a George Costanza storyline. George Costanza is the only TV character you could imagine receiving the porn e-mail from a supervisor at work, and then being fired for it.

Susan said...

I hate to be a niggly historian, worrying about facts, but were they non-renewed (what the AP story suggests) or denied tenure.

But certainly getting fired for receiving porn from the dean who had served on your doctoral committee is up there on the list of outrageous outcomes!

Anonymous said...

The couple's contracts were not renewed.

Tenured Radical said...

Thanks for the corrections folks: I am glad to say that it was the Chronicle that erred.


GayProf said...

Why New Mexico? Why?

I need a drink.

Anonymous said...

;-) wild story and great quotation at the end of yours ... LOL!