EXCLUSIVE: Climate of Discrimination Was Reason for Resignation, Claims Former MIT Professor in The Scientist
PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the first time since his resignation, Frank Douglas, the former Professor of the Practice at MIT and director of MIT’s Center for Biomedical Innovation, speaks out to the media in an exclusive opinion piece for The Scientist, about the climate of discrimination in academia that led him to resign from MIT this summer.
“concluded that it was not an issue of lack of capability, but one of lack of will to deal with a problem that had clearly polarized minority faculty and the larger MIT community.”
In the wake of the Institute’s controversial denial of tenure to James Sherley, who staged a hunger strike in protest in February, Douglas made the suggestion that MIT should assign an external panel to evaluate the environment in which minority faculty at MIT work and to reassess the Sherley case. When the Institute ignored his recommendation, Douglas “concluded that it was not an issue of lack of capability, but one of lack of will to deal with a problem that had clearly polarized minority faculty and the larger MIT community.”
Douglas explains his reasons, which go beyond the Sherley case. “I did so because I perceived an unconscious discrimination against minorities,” Douglas says. ”My decision was based on the complex, insidious nature of discrimination in a university context.”
Race wasn’t the only discriminatory issue that prompted his decision to write about his experiences in The Scientist. Douglas watched first-hand as women faculty, in three separate instances, fought against discrimination in science academia.
Through his resignation, Douglas illuminates an issue larger than the individual Sherley case. “Institutes such as MIT will proudly parade successes in increasing the number of minority undergraduate and graduate students, and perhaps even the entry of young minority faculty. As promising as these statistics might be, they do not predict the success for minority faculty seeking tenure,” Douglas says.
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