Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hungry for Tenure

MIT professor, James Sherley, has begun a hunger strike as a way to protest his denial of tenure by the university. He claims that racism is motivating this decision by MIT. Considering that he is the only black colleague in his department, that may, or may not, be true.

What I found interesting was the mention of Sherley's position on stem cells. He has made great strides in his work with adult stem cells, and is against the use of embryonic stem cells, equating it with taking human life. I have to wonder if the decision to deny him tenure has less to do with his race and more to do with his unflinching resolve against embryonic stem cell research. Scientists have little regard for those who don't want to tow the party line.

MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay would not comment on the specific reasons Sherley was not advanced on the tenure track. But he said administrators, as part of
the tenure process, sought input from experts in Sherley's field outside
MIT.

"He didn't come up to the standard we expect based on those inputs
from the outside," Clay said.

Um... since when are hiring decisions made by people who are outside of an organization? Did the fact that most stem cell researchers want to use embryos, and might be irritated by his insistence on using adult stem cells, influence the input on Sherley's work?

I'm not sure that sitting outside your superior's office, losing an extra twenty pounds, is the way to go as far as getting tenure is concerned; but, it will make for some interesting news. If he gets tenure, do you think they'll throw him a dinner?

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