The Torments of Academia

According to a UH professor, his "perceived disability" is one

Simon also supports Curtis' contention that his refusal to support the Coalition for Excellence contributed to his failure to win promotion. Those base political motives, however, were cloaked by highly subjective judgments about the quality of the professor's academic output, Simon argues. Since productivity is figured simply by how many articles an academic publishes in notable journals, "it really means you're trying to turn lint into linen ... you go to existing data sets and play trivial games with them, rather than go through the whole process of designing research from beginning to end, which is what Curtis has done."

The founder of the Coalition for Excellence, political science department chairman Kent Tedin, rejects Curtis' claims regarding the coalition. Tedin says Rodgers was never an organizer or member of the organization during his tenure as dean, nor were the sociology professors when they evaluated Curtis. Rodgers later joined the coalition as a professor.

Curtis' salary, according to his lawsuit, is significantly less than other associate professors with less experience and tenure with the university. After failing to be nominated by his department for full professor, Curtis applied himself in 1993. He eventually received votes for promotion from Simon and sociology professor Allen Haney. But Chafetz and Ebaugh voted no, and Dworkin, then the department chair, broke the tie with a third no vote. After unsuccessfully appealing through administrative channels, Curtis turned to the federal courts.

You might think it would be somewhat unpleasant for Curtis to continue working in the department now that he's brought his fight for promotion into the legal arena. Not so, avows the professor, perhaps indicating just how unsociable the sociology department had become over the years.

"It's infinitely more comfortable than it was before," Curtis says of his relationship with the colleagues he's suing. "It puts them on the defensive. I can be on the offensive ....

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