NTU rejects appeal by professor against decision not to grant tenure

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NANYANG Technological University (NTU) has turned down an appeal by journalism professor Cherian George against its decision not to grant him tenure.

This means that he is likely to leave the school within a year.

In response to the university's decision, four of its most senior faculty members, including two ex-deans, Professor Ang Peng Hwa and Emeritus Professor Eddie Kuo, sent a letter in support of Dr George to NTU president Bertil Andersson yesterday.

In the letter, the professors said the controversy over the university's decision to deny him tenure is causing "serious damage to our academic reputation and professional integrity" and NTU's ability to attract top communication scholars.

It has also left them "perplexed as to what exactly NTU expects of its staff in order to earn tenure".

Dr George, 47, joined NTU in 2004 and teaches courses on media in Singapore at the university's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. He won a teaching excellence award from NTU in 2010, and has published several books.

The Straits Times understands that he was informed about two weeks ago that his appeal had been rejected. When contacted last night, he declined to comment.

He appealed in March after his application for tenure was denied the month before. NTU's decision led to speculation that it was politically-motivated due to his past criticism of the Government.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ST, the professors said Dr George has been one of the most valuable additions to the school in teaching, research and service.

They wrote: "Those of us who are not yet tenured need to know: what more than Cherian do we have to do?"

In a separate e-mail to faculty members yesterday, Prof Ang explained the letter was not an "appeal of an appeal", but was written in the interest that the tenure process be made less ambiguous.

The school's decision has already had some consequences, he said, in that a university has declined to sign an MOU on student exchange.

NTU last night declined to comment on Dr George's case.

But a spokesman said: "The NTU president looks at all appeals carefully to ensure that the tenure process has been duly followed and if it has, then the outcome will be upheld."

ateng@sph.com.sg