The progressive economist Mehrene Larudee, who teaches in the International Studies Department at DePaul, "had strong backing throughout the [tenure] process, until the final committee review and presidential decision to reject her."
By Justin Delacour
Latin America News Review
June 11, 2007
It has just been reported that the progressive economist Mehrene Larudee, who teaches at the International Studies Department at Depaul University, was recently denied tenure. Insidehighered.com reports that "Larudee had strong backing throughout the [tenure] process, until the final committee review and presidential decision to reject her."
In April 2002, Dr. Larudee attended the University of New Mexico's "Integration in the Americas Conference," organized by UNM's Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII). At the conference, Dr. Larudee gave a talk on the rise of economic inequality in Mexico. After the talk, I got the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss issues of economic development. Although I do not remember all the details of our discussion, I do recall that we shared similar "heterodox" viewpoints about the proper course of economic development for poor and middle-income countries. What I recall is that we both expressed criticisms of "Washington Consensus" economic policies and that we shared a conviction that poor and middle-income countries needed industrial policies (i.e. state intervention to foster modern industry) to develop sustainably and successfully. I recall that I greatly enjoyed my conversation with Dr. Larudee and that I was quite happy that she had been able to attend the conference at UNM.
Dr. Larudee's tenure denial has been overshadowed by Depaul's simultaneous denial of tenure to Norman Finkelstein, a well-known professor of political science who has been outspoken in his criticisms of Israeli state policy.
In stressing that Larudee's work concerns "issues having nothing to do with Finkelstein’s research," Insidehighered.com misses the point that both Finkelstein and Larudee are leftist intellectuals who are outside the mainstream of their respective disciplines. It is indeed highly suspicious that two leftist intellectuals --both strongly backed by their respective departments-- would be simultaneously denied tenure at Depaul.
Although my knowledge of Finkelstein's work is limited, I do recall watching a debate between Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz in which Finkelstein's knowledge of Israeli state policy appeared vastly superior to that of Dershowitz.
If it is the case that Finkelstein and Larudee are being denied tenure for ideological reasons, then academic freedom is indeed under attack. Scholars should be evaluated on the basis of the empirical rigor of their work, not on whether they reside inside or outside the mainstream of their respective disciplines.
Dr. Larudee has reportedly told Insidehighered.com via e-mail that many at DePaul are wondering about the 'startling departure' from university principles in her case and Finkelstein’s.
"IN TIMES OF UNIVERSAL DECEIT, TELLING THE TRUTH WILL BE A REVOLUTIONARY ACT." - George Orwell
“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano