Dr. Rachel Tudor, Assistant Professor of English, Humanities and Literature at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma for the past seven years, is an accomplished scholar.
According to Dr. Tudor, she has been recommended for promotion and tenure twice in the last two years by the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee, based on the well-known university criteria of teaching, scholarship and service. The school's rules require the Administration to grant tenure in such cases, unless there is an extraordinary circumstance requiring denial. Indeed, according to Dr. Tudor, tenure applications are routinely approved by the Administration once the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee makes a positive recommendation.
So what "extraordinary circumstance" requires denial of Dr. Tudor's tenure application by the Administration of Southeastern Oklahoma University, which according to Dr. Tudor has never before occurred at the school to her knowledge? And not only that, but rather than being allowed to apply again, as is usual, a University Vice-President took another surprising step, and notified Dr. Tudor that she is not even allowed to submit another application but must leave the school at the end of the semester?
The only thing extra-ordinary about Dr. Tudor, as far as I can tell, aside from her excellent credentials, is that she is transsexual. That leads me to suspect that Southeastern Oklahoma University might be discriminating on the basis of Dr. Tudor's gender. Let's look at the evidence.
Petition to sign after the jump, as well.
According to Dr. Tudor, the Interim VP of Academic Affairs, Douglas McMillan, issued a memo explaining his decision. He said that nothing in the school's policy prohibits someone from re-applying for tenure, and re-applications are apparently routine, but they don't have to allow it, either. There are apparently a number of people at the school who have re-applied for tenure after denial. However, he said that allowing her to re-apply would "inflame tensions between faculty and administration," apparently because the Faculty Tenure and Promotions Committee was a bit understandably miffed that their recommendations as to her qualifications have been twice ignored, and because the Faculty Appeals Committee has found in favor of Dr. Tudor twice, and the Faculty Senate has passed a resolution in support of her application. Somewhat contradictorily, another reason he gave is his opinion that she is unqualified despite the faculty's opinion to the contrary, thus raising the salient question of who -- Vice-President McMillan or Dr. Tudor, is inflaming the faculty-administration tensions.
The most salient reason given by the Administration for her first tenure denial is that it was claimed that they were unable to verify that she was co-editor of two journals. That would be a serious accusation indeed, if it were not for the fact that the journals are journals of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and a trip down the hall to the Journal's offices could probably clear up the problem. In fact, according to Dr. Tudor, she spoke to her colleague Dr. Mark Spencer, with whom she co-edited, and he noted that no one from the school had even asked him about it to verify the question. It appears that the journal's website had mistakenly failed to list her name, but her name was on the cover of the printed journal and was in the tenure portfolio. It's worthy of note that she now has 10 peer reviewed journals. At this teaching university, most professors have not written more than two or three articles.
Her teaching and service, the other two criteria for promotion and tenure, are exemplary. Her last teaching assessment called her "inspirational," and she's been on several major service committees. Interestingly, she was on one committee that spearheaded a major revision of the school's faculty handbook. It would have included gender identity protection, among other things. Unsurprisingly, the Administration has not yet acted on this, although the faculty Senate has approved it.
It's also relevant that, after transitioning in 2007, Dr. Tudor says that she was instructed by SOSU's human resource department to only use a single-stall handicap bathroom on a different floor than where her office is located. She presumes the direction came from Dr. Douglas McMillan, the vice president of academic affairs, who reportedly had also inquired whether Dr. Tudor could be terminated because her lifestyle "offends his Baptist beliefs." Human resources denied his request to terminate her based his religious beliefs, but there is no indication that his religious beliefs have changed. It would seem that his religious beliefs have colored the Administration's subsequent decision to terminate her. Vice-President McMillan isn't the only person who has these attitudes. According to Dr. Tudor, her Dean insists on calling Dr. Tudor by male pronouns.
Dr. Tudor's contract expires on May 31, 2011, at which time her employment with the school will end, unless something occurs to intervene. According to the University, her non-renewal is officially listed as "without cause."
Dr. Tudor has brought her case to the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, the US Department of Education, and the EEOC. She is waiting to hear from them.
There is an online petition to protest the University's actions. More information is available at Tenured Radical.