Double Standards at Indiana Law: William Bradford and Robin Kundis Craig · 11 August 2005

Filed under: Indiana, Press Coverage

By Professor

There is new information on the William Bradford case , and I wish to add it to my analysis of that case.

As you know, I am the full professor at a major state university who wrote the recent analysis for Frontpage concerning William Bradford. To repeat: I am a registered Democrat, with local campus awards from both the gay community and from minorities, who voted for John Kerry.

William Bradford, one of the few American Indian law professors in the country (he is a Chiricahua Apache), is an untenured associate professor of law at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Law School. This spring his formal application for tenure was denied by the IUPUI central administration, and when a "straw poll" vote on the probability of his future tenure was taken within the Law Faculty itself, it came out only 10-5 for Bradford. As I said in my earlier analysis, this indicates significant opposition to Bradford ever getting tenure at IUPUI. Indeed, a second vote, simply to extend Bradford's contract for three years in untenured status, also only came out 10-5. This indicates that there was significant opposition even to extending Bradford's untenured contract for three years. Although to the uninitiated these two votes look positive, in fact-- with one-third of the faculty against him--they raise the most serious issues concerning Professor Bradford's future at IUPUI (See Frontpage 8/10/05).

The mystery is why these votes occurred. Only three categories are allowed by IUPUI Law for consideration regarding tenure or extension of contract: these are teaching, service, and scholarship. In all three categories, Professor Bradford appears outstanding. He has an official rating of "excellent" on both teaching and service at IUPUI. He was voted "outstanding new faculty-member of the year" for 2002/2003 by the IUPUI law students. And for an untenured person he has a simply extraordinary record of legal scholarship: namely, a book of case law, a forthcoming book, and a total of 21 law review articles or chapters in books. His record of legal scholarship outmatches most colleagues who are already tenured at the associate professor level at IUPUI; it matches many colleagues who are tenured full professors there; and it even matches (and in at least one case far outmatches-see below) faculty who hold prestigious endowed Chairs as full professors of Law there. The mystery of opposition to a candidate who on the surface seems so outstanding is compounded by the fact that Bradford is, as I noted, one of only a dozen or so American Indian law professors in the country. One would think that IUPUI Law would be jumping for joy to have him.

Bradford himself believes that his problems began in good part when, this spring, he refused to sign a petition supporting Ward Churchill, the anti-American professor of Ethnic Studies who compared the office-workers in the Trade Towers on 9/11 to little Nazis, "little Eichmanns", and declared that they deserved what they got. This letter was circulated by one of the most senior scholars at IUPUI Law, Professor Florence Roisman, who holds an endowed Chair. Bradford, who served in the U.S. Army for ten years, refused to sign this petition. He is certainly entitled to his political opinion but he believes he was punished for it, and especially because Professor Roisman expected him and indeed explicitly said to him that as an Indian he should support another Indian, Ward Churchill (actually, it is highly doubtful that Ward Churchill is an Indian, but leave that aside). In other words, politics--and even racism--was inappropriately involved in the bad votes for Bradford at IUPUI.

At the time I wrote the analysis of the case for you, I was willing to take at least somewhat seriously the argument that at least some of the opposition to Professor Bradford originated in the fact that the normal untenured probation period at IUPUI Law is-as it is at most institutions-six years, and that he was attempting to come up for tenure early. Indeed, that is the reason that the central administration gave in March 2005 for turning down his formal application for tenure: that he was coming up too early. I noted in my original analysis that in fact there was nothing in the IUPUI Handbook that forbade someone with extraordinary scholarly credentials from coming up for tenure early. All this was before I knew of the case of Bradford's colleague Robin Kundis Craig.

A white woman, Professor Craig was allowed to come up for tenure at the beginning of only her third year at IUPUI, last fall, and she did officially receive tenure this spring. And there is more: having just been promoted to tenure as an associate professor this spring, she was then promoted to the exalted rank of tenured full professor this summer-after only four months as a tenured associate professor. To repeat: this all happened this year-the same year in which the Native American male, Professor Bradford, was told he could not apply to be a tenured associate professor, and then had his career at IUPUI damaged by poor votes both on his potential for future tenure as well as on whether even to keep him there, untenured, for three more years.

Professor Craig's situation makes Professor Bradford's situation look somewhat more suspect than I even thought previously. Professor Craig, a specialist in environmental law, joined the IUPUI faculty in autumn 2002-the same time as Bradford did. She did not receive "outstanding new instructor of the year" for 2002/2003: Bradford did. Craig has an extraordinary publishing record, just as Bradford does. Her record is about the same as Bradford's (if better, it is only slightly so). I count one book on environmental law, a book with a strong political advocacy bent (2004); one book of case law on environmental law and the accompanying teacher's manual (2005); and 24 law review articles or chapters in books. By comparison, Bradford has one book of case law on the laws of war and transnational security (2005), one forthcoming book on honoring Indian treaties, and 21 law review articles or chapters in books.

But Professor Craig, who came to IUPUI at the same time as Bradford in autumn 2002, was allowed to come up early for tenure in autumn 2004, and was voted favorably for tenure as an associate professor while just beginning her third year at IUPUI. Craig officially received her notice of tenure in April 2005. And then she was promoted to a tenured full professorship in July 2005.

I do not doubt that Robin Kundis Craig deserves to be a tenured full professor of law at IUPUI. She does. If anything, her promotion to tenured full professor on a body of work similar to Professor Bradford's strengthens the case that Bradford should at least be a tenured associate professor. But my point is that Craig, who came to IUPUI in the same semester as Bradford, was awarded both "early tenure" during academic year 2004/2005 and then was awarded a full professorship in summer 2005; all this on an impressive but only slightly better publication record than Bradford, and on a teaching performance that is good but not as stellar as Bradford's. So Craig, the white woman with a body of scholarship similar to Bradford, is now a tenured full professor. By contrast Bradford, the Native American male, is only an untenured associate professor who now also has a bad vote both on possible tenure and on simply on being retained for another three years without tenure.

Something is wrong with this picture.

It is true that Craig had taught elsewhere for three years--at an unprestigious law school--before coming to IUPUI in autumn 2002. Bradford did not do this: instead, he was earning a second advanced degree in Law from Harvard. But most professional academics will know that teaching at other institutions does not automatically count in terms of time-towards-tenure at a new institution. (To take my own case: I taught for two years elsewhere before I came to my present institution as untenured, but my tenure "clock" at my present institution was still set for the full six years-not four-though early tenure was, again, a possibility). Evidently, however, it can count as time-towards-tenure at IUPUI. But I am surprised that teaching at the Western New England College School of Law (in Springfield, Mass.), not a stellar institution, would count so much. It's not like she was teaching at Harvard. In other words: there seems no way around the fact that Professor Craig was allowed to come up for tenure at least in some sense early in the same year that Professor Bradford was denied this right on the ground that one is not allowed at IUPUI Law to come up for tenure early. Moreover, Professor Craig not only received tenure as an associate professor but was then almost immediately catapulted to the rank of full professor (four months later: talk about "early promotion"!).

Yes, in academia no case for promotion is exactly the same as any other case, and these two cases are different. But no case is THAT different, where one person ends up a full professor and the other, with quite similar qualifications, ends up untenured and on his way out of a job.

So what we appear to have here are two faculty who come to IUPUI at the same time, with similar outstanding publication records. The white female professor, who does environmental law, is allowed to come up (at least in some sense) for early tenure, receives it, and then instantly also receives promotion to a full professorship. The male minority, a patriotic American Indian and Army veteran, who works primarily on laws of war, although he has a similarly large body of scholarly work as his colleague, is (a) denied even the opportunity to come up for tenure when he applies for it seven months after the white woman does, (b) gets a bad "straw poll" vote on prospective tenure, and (c) worst of all, gets an equally bad vote simply on being retained at an untenured level for the next three years.

The case of Professor Craig makes Bradford's desire to come up for tenure early appear to me to be even more understandable than it already was on the basis of his outstanding scholarship. And Craig's instant double promotion appears to place Bradford's application for simple tenure in a new perspective.

One final and disturbing point. The petition in support of Ward Churchill had the strong backing of another senior scholar at IUPUI, Mary Harter Mitchell. Professor Mitchell is also a full professor, and indeed holds an endowed Chair of Law; she soon became another person who very publicly wanted Professor Bradford gone from IUPUI. I omitted this in my original analysis, but I note now for comparison that Professor Mitchell, although she is a tenured full professor at Law at IUPUI, and the holder of an endowed Chair, has a grand total to her credit of one book of case law (from 1982) and only four published articles. Of these four articles, only two are actual legal scholarship. And none of Mitchell's actual legal scholarship is later than 1987. Comparing this record with Bradford's accomplishments, one is taken aback: the untenured associate professor Bradford has literally published ten times--yes, ten times--the legal scholarship of the full professor Mitchell, his persecutor.