Science and technology in their social context

Department of Science and Technology Studies
University of Wollongong
Wollongong NSW 2522

23 March 1993

Professor Faye Gale
University of Western Australia

Dear Professor Gale,

I write concerning the tenure case of David Rindos, about which I have read a number of documents.

Overall, the case for granting him tenure seems obvious. As you would be aware, denial of tenure is quite infrequent in Australian universities, and usually is only considered for exceedingly inferior performance or gross dereliction of duty. Neither of these apply in this case.

Here at the University of Wollongong, the three major criteria for tenure and promotion are teaching, research and administration. For administrative tasks, the major criterion is that they be done. Rindos, having been head of department, has certainly done more than his share of administration.

On teaching, student evaluations are taken quite seriously here. It is required that anyone seeking tenure or promotion have evaluations carried out for all subjects taught in at least 3 of the preceeding 4 semesters. I understand that some of Rindos' evaluations are not available due to the fault of the Department of Archaelogy. In this circumstance, a suitable stance is that he be assumed to have taught equal or better than indicated by the available evaluations (with the benefit of the doubt if necessary), or have his position extended until sufficient evaluations are available. In either case, there is no basis for denial of tenure at this stage.

On research, you may like to study the recent DEET statistics on publication rates. Publishing one paper per year in a refereed journal puts an academic at or above the median. To assess a scholar's publication rate, it is necessary to average over a sufficient number of years. Either Rindos' 1989 publications should be included or his unsubmitted and not-yet-accepted manuscripts be sent to independent referees for assessment (and judged at their current level of preparation, rather than compared to published papers). If this were done, I believe it would be impossible to judge his research record as less than satisfactory. This is not to mention his high citation rate compared to peers at UWA, which more than compensates for any possible inadequacy in the absolute number of his publications.

All told, the case for tenure is overwhelming simply on the available record.

I am aware of some the extraordinary tensions and struggles in the Department of Archaeology over the past few years. In the circumstances, administration, teaching and especially research are very likely to suffer compared to more tranquil times. My department went through a traumatic review process in 1992, and this set back most people's research by 6 to 12 months. There is a very strong case to take this factor into account in assessing Rindos' record.

For over a decade, I have been studying cases of suppression of intellectual dissent. (Some representative writing is found in B. Martin et al., eds., Intellectual Suppression: Australian Case Histories, Analysis and Responses, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1986.) A number of the cases that I have studied involved denial of tenure or promotion. In typical cases of suppression and scapegoating, the person in question is judged by different standards than are colleagues. The Rindos case seems to fit this mould in a variety of ways, for example in the way that certain of his publications are dismissed from consideration for arbitrary reasons, as well as many other details. If he were denied tenure, I would see it as a clear-cut case of discrimination.

I would be happy to discuss any of this further.


Dr Brian Martin

Kerry Evans, Academic Staff Association, UWA
David Rindos