The contention over theatre professor Lara Nielsen’s tenure decision reached a new concrete stage the week prior to spring break, with Nielsen officially filing an appeal with the Faculty Appeals Committee. Nielsen was denied tenure last December, and students have been working to support her since then with letter writing campaigns, art installations and other actions. The final decision will be released near the end of the semester.
The Faculty Personal Committee (FPC), an eight-member committee formed by President Brian Rosenberg, Provost Kathleen Murray and six faculty members, originally decided to deny Nielsen tenure. According to the guidelines for tenure decision appeal, appeals must be based on procedural error by the FPC or a violation of the candidate’s academic freedom.
Appeals are decided by a separate committee from the FPC, called the Faculty Appeals Committee. This committee consists of faculty members with FPC experience not involved in the original decision being appealed. They will recommend a decision to President Rosenberg.
If President Rosenberg elects to approve Nielsen’s appeal, the FPC will reconsider the professor’s case and make a final decision.
In 2008, President Rosenberg approved Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies professor Scott Morgensen’s appeal in the wake of significant lobbying by students. Morgensen ultimately chose to leave Macalester and now teaches at Queen’s University in Ontario.