The following is CSI Professor Emerita Robin Carey’s response to Queen Springer’s Letter
February 15, 2001
As you know, I was dismayed to learn of President Springer’s decision against recommending you for tenure. After all, you had told me you understood there had been no problems connected with your fourth year reappointment. You can well imagine that I am now horrified to learn of the critical role my December 1998 Annual Evaluation Conference Memorandum played in President Springer’s decision.
I thank you for furnishing me with a copy of President Springer’s letter of December 26, 2000, in which she gave the reasons for her decision, and also a copy of your vita from September 2000. Since the beginning of my Travia leave September 2000, I have had no access to personnel files, including yours.
After the P & B’s positive third year recommendation in Fall 1998, Provost Affron requested that I talk to her before I put on paper the write-up of my Annual Evaluation Conference so that you would have a clear guide to what achievements were expected of you before the tenure decision in Fall 2000. I believe that the Provost felt this was particularly important in your case for, as you are aware, the third year reappointment had been somewhat problematical. The Provost’s request may have resulted from her suspicion (probably correct) that left to myself I would have been less specific, and as a result your future reappointment might be in jeopardy.
When I read President Springer’s December 26, 2000 letter to you, I realized that despite the desire by everyone to give you a clear set of expectations, the Annual Evaluation Conference Memorandum turned out instead to produce a devastating misunderstanding of those expectations.
President Springer’s letter of December 26, 2000 stated that you had not lived up to the Chairperson’s expectations. The first failure related to the expectation of “one or two more accepted/published articles.” President Springer found none since the third year appointment, as she assumed that “articles” meant articles in refereed journals, while the three articles of yours that were accepted between September 1998 and September 2000 will appear as chapters in books. Thus she did not consider under this rubric “Active and Passive Euthanasia: On Letting An Issue Die,” which will appear as a chapter in Abbarno, Inherent and Instrumental Value: An Excursion into Value Inquiry; “What Good Is Consent? Reflections on Decisions at the End of Life,” which will appear in Patton, Theoretical and Practical Foundations of Value; and “Liberal Education Naturalized: The Facts About Values,” which was published last year (2000) in Natale, Business, Education, and Training: A Value Laden Process.
But I had drawn no distinction, in thought, speech, or in writing, between articles appearing in a journal and articles appearing in a book.
Indeed, to me, it is the intrinsic scholarly merit of the piece that is of the essence, not the place in which it appears. Articles in books would normally be subject to some sort of review before inclusion, and, more important, all are subjected to CSI’s outside evaluation process. With the wisdom of hindsight, I wish that I had specifically mentioned book chapters in the Memo, and then if I had misunderstood or misremembered Provost Affron’s words, she could have corrected the matter when she reviewed the document.
President Springer explained that in her judgment “chapters in collective volumes drawn from conferences carry less scholarly weight than journal articles.” (It might be suggested, with tongue only slightly in cheek, that if such a book chapter has one third less weight than an article in a journal, your three accepted articles to appear in books are equal to two articles in journals, and you have met, or more than met, the minimum expectation for articles accepted/published mentioned in my December 1998 memo.)
The absence of any warnings in connection with your fourth reappointment, at least none that reached you, is an important point to recognize. Assuming that I had misunderstood Provost Affron’s idea of an acceptable article, you could still have taken action if you had been warned by appropriate persons after the P & B deliberations. Given the fact that your articles have been accepted by well-regarded journals like the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (Cambridge University Press), Dialectica: An International Review of Philosophy of Knowledge (Bern, Switzerland), and The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (under the auspices of Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University), it is certainly not impossible that you could have withdrawn two of the articles from the books and found journals in which to publish them. We shall never know.
The other way in which President Springer argues that you have failed to live up to the expectations stems from the absence of any mention of your two projected books in your 2000 vita, one on Quine’s philosophy and the other on physician-assisted suicide. Because they are not listed, President Springer may have reasonably concluded they had vanished also from your plans. But, as you recently explained to me, your reason for taking them out of the vita was that progress on the books qua books had not taken sufficiently concrete form, and you did not want to appear to be inflating your vita.
In any event, planning and other activity has taken place, and, interestingly enough, a consideration of some of it also provides an answer to the question raised by President Springer concerning what happened to the article “Why Cartesian Skepticism is Unnatural,” which was to be published as a book chapter. As I understand the matter, the editor of the proposed volume Private and Public Values (in which the article was to appear) left academic life and left the book in a state of collapse. You have retrieved the article and are revising it with the intention of using it in your book on Quine and his concept of truth. Another project relating to this book on Quine is the article, “Philosophy of Science and Legal Prof. Popperean and Quinean Perspectives,” which you are writing with Paul I-Herskovitz. (The fact that you were asked to write an “In Memorium” essay on Quine for The Review of Metaphysics after Professor Quine’s death last winter indicates the regard in which you are held by the Quinean community.)
Also you have done work in one way or another on the book on physician-assisted suicide. “Trust in Medicine,” your article submitted in September 2000 to the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and now accepted, contains relevant material. And due in part to your receiving a PSC-CUNY grant to study the subject, your collaboration with the physician-scholar G.K. Kimsma of the Free University of Amsterdam (in a nation where physician-assisted suicide has been practiced under an experimental, legal program) has been fruitful. A work-in-progress manuscript resulting from your collaboration with Dr. Kimsma and entitled “The Good Physician and the Shroud” is already in your file. The workshops you gave at the end of September 1999 at the Hamot Medical Center, Erie, Pa, and in Chautauqua, NY, are also relevant.
Submissions for publications are also continuing, as attested to by a joint work (with Klein and Herskovitz) titled: “Philosophical Dimensions of Anonymity in Group Support Systems: Ethical Implications of Social Psychological Con-sequences.” The essay has been submitted for review to the journal Computers and Human Behavior, a journal that publishes under the auspices of the University of Minnesota.
My opinion of your work is that you are an excellent scholar,
who will produce considerable significant work. That your work has been
cited four times by other scholars so early in your career supports this
With this letter I hope I have helped to set the record straight on the guidance you received and the way you have demonstrated the scholarly ability and achievement which CSI rightly expects. No questions have ever arisen about the excellence of your teaching and the generous contributions of time and energy to your students, the department, and the college. CSI needs you.
Please feel free to share this letter with other persons in whatever situations you believe it would be appropriate.