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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Resignation about more than Sherley tenure denial, former MIT professor says

By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent

Frank L. Douglas, who resigned from MIT last month as his colleague James Sherley was ending his fight for tenure, writes in The Scientist that his reasons for leaving MIT go beyond Sherley's case.

Sherley, an African-American stem cell scientist, went on a 12-day hunger strike in February to protest what he called racism in MIT's denial of tenure. MIT has denied his contention.

Douglas, who is also African-American, said he left his positions as a professor and director of MIT's Center for Biomedical Innovation because of MIT's "lack of will to deal with a problem that had clearly polarized minority faculty and the larger MIT community."

"I did so because I perceived an unconscious discrimination against minorities and because my colleagues and the institute authorities did not act on my recommendations to address these issues," he writes. "The timing was such that many of my colleagues thought I was resigning over the case of James Sherley, who was denied tenure in 2004 and went on a hunger strike earlier this year in protest. But my decision was based on the complex, insidious nature of discrimination in a university context."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 05:48 PM
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