Twelve members of the California State Legislature have written UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and Provost Scott Waugh a letter decrying UCLA's treatment of longtime Department of Environmental Health Sciences faculty member James E. Enstrom. Professor Enstrom was let go from UCLA after some 34 years under circumstances detailed by FIRE and described in a video released yesterday from Reason.tv.
Led by Chief Republican Whip Dan Logue, Assemblymember, Third District, the legislators write that they "remain deeply troubled by the University's inability to provide credible cause for Dr. Enstrom's dismissal, and the appearance of political interference in the University's academic discourse."
They also raise concerns "as to the integrity of this process," since UCLA's allegation that Enstrom failed to meet his department's "minimum requirements" appears to have been based on a document dating back to 1995 that Enstrom had never seen and which might not be at all applicable to Enstrom's position. (I wrote about this document a couple of weeks ago.) The legislators write that "this policy of minimum requirements has neither been enforced with the Department, nor has the document been provided to Dr. Enstrom despite his specific request. This seems arbitrary and capricious and undermines the legitimacy of the Department's reasons for dismissal."
(I believe that the document was finally provided to Enstrom late last week, when after huge delays UCLA provided the materials it was planning to use against him during the mediation hearings in his case, which will begin on Monday, April 4, unless UCLA resolves the issue before then.)
The legislators note that they might "promptly hold a hearing in Sacramento on this matter," arguing that "the integrity of the University of California requires that faculty have the freedom to publish research findings, without fear of potential retribution from those in higher positions."
FIRE will keep readers updated on further developments in this case.
Click here to write UCLA Chancellor Gene Block about the threat to academic freedom posed by UCLA's treatment of Dr. James Enstrom.