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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Faculty Dispute Update
Posted 8:50 PM by Joshua Claybourn
The Progressive Faculty and Staff Coalition (PFSC) has issued a "Statement in Support of Florence Roisman and Mary Mitchell" that is now available online. Also, Prof. Mitchell has submitted an open letter, which we have agreed to publish below in its entirety.


An Open Letter from Professor Mary Harter Mitchell
July 6, 2005

Professor Bill Bradford has been slandering me for some time, and now that the Indianapolis Star has added libel to slander, it is time for me to defend myself. Unlike Professor Bradford and his unnamed informants, I will not disclose or rely on communications or information from confidential meetings of the law school’s Promotions and Tenure Committee. I am obliged to honor the confidentiality of these meetings, as any conscientious academic professional should know.

Prof. Bradford is quoted in the Indianapolis Star as having said that I have consistently voted against him for tenure. That is false, and it is false at several levels.

In the first place, as others have confirmed, Prof. Bradford has never applied for tenure, nor is he yet eligible for tenure in due course.

Furthermore, I have never based my vote or evaluation of any colleague—for purposes of contract renewal, promotion, or tenure—on the candidate’s race, politics, substantive position on law school issues, gender, or veteran status. I am quite careful and conscientious never to do this. As the saying goes, some of my best friends are political conservatives, including many students and colleagues at the law school whom I love, support, learn from, and respect very much; furthermore, on some issues, I am myself quite “conservative.” Twisting Prof. Bradford’s difficulties at the law school into an issue of “political correctness in academia” is pure distortion of the reality, itself political. Those who insist on reading Prof. Bradford’s situation in such a political framework are only showing their own predispositions to distort reality and their own unwillingness to get all the facts before leaping to conclusions that confirm their own prejudices.

In addition, deliberations by the school’s Promotions and Tenure Committee are required by professional ethics to be confidential. Professor Bradford’s statements on this matter must therefore have been either concocted by him or derived from persons who have violated a core professional ethic of confidentiality. Either option should raise suspicion of the accuracy of the information, and, indeed, his information is grossly inaccurate. To be blunt, either Prof. Bradford or his sources are twisting the truth. Furthermore, Prof. Bradford refuses to say where he got his (inaccurate) information concerning confidential discussion in Promotions and Tenure meetings--if he did not make it up. The faculty recently imposed on students an Honor Code, the terms of which require students to report other students’ violations of the code of student conduct of which they have knowledge. This Honor Code was passed unanimously by the law school faculty, and Prof. Bradford served on the special committee that produced this code. Yet Prof. Bradford does not impose on himself the same duty we have imposed on students, as Prof. Bradford refuses to say who on the Promotions and Tenure Committee has violated the duty of confidentiality with (inaccurate) reports about concerns raised or comments made during confidential meetings. The hypocrisy of this is stunning, and this lack of information makes it difficult for those of us slandered by Prof. Bradford’s statements to find the source of his mis-statements. On the law school blog Prof. Bradford states that he is “really tired of ‘confidentiality’ and anonymity becoming shields behind which moral cowards hide.” Does this mean he’s finally going to tell us who has violated Committee confidentiality with misinformation or with information he has twisted? While Committee discussions must be confidential, the names of persons who violate the confidentiality requirement are not.

Prof. Bradford has shown, in his continual slander of me (and Prof. Roisman) to students, to colleagues, and now to the general public, an intention to blame his predicament on particular persons whom he has demonized with a frightening degree of out-of-control fury and distortion. This in itself becomes a public reason to question his fitness for a permanent position on a faculty that values fairness, truthfulness, and ability to behave professionally.

I have not consistently voted against Prof. Bradford for tenure. I have never voted against Prof. Bradford for tenure. I have not consistently voted against Prof. Bradford at all. Prof. Bradford was awarded a promotion this past year and the vote on that was unanimous. Any reasons for concern about Prof. Bradford’s fitness for a tenured position at this law school will be taken up through the school’s legitimate and legitimately confidential processes. One need not question the quantity of his publications or his popularity with a large number of students to hold concerns.

Damage to Professor Bradford’s reputation and career must be attributed to the true sources: Professor Bradford himself, members of the law school’s Promotions and Tenure Committee who have misinformed him, Star columnist Ruth Holladay, and others basing their positions on incomplete and erroneous information.

The Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis is an already outstanding law school improving continually and served by faculty, staff, and administrators of high integrity and ability. With the appointment of Dean Susanah Mead as interim dean, we are in a good position to put lies behind us and focus on the continued building of excellence in a framework of integrity. For myself, I intend to turn to those tasks.

As seen in the
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