Dr Cherian George denied tenure; students, academics express concern

Nanyang Technological University's associate professor of journalism Cherian George was denied tenure for a second time, despite his school's endorsements on both occasions. An online petition received more than 800 signatures, while faculty members plan to formally express their concern.

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  1. UPDATED MARCH 9, 2013 0200H GMT+8, TO REFLECT DR GEORGE'S REPORTED RESPONSE, NEW STATEMENTS
  2. According to Yahoo! Singapore, some faculty members of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) met on March 4. A collective formal letter of concern would be addressed to the school chair, Associate Professor Benjamin Detember, over Dr George's second denial of tenure, and what this means for other academics seeking it.

    Under NTU's "3+3+3+1" tenure track policy, Dr George will have to leave the university within the next year after being rejected for tenure a second time. 

    However, Yahoo! Singapore confirmed via two sources on March 8 that Dr George has filed a formal appeal before the deadline.
  3. Dr Detenber was understood to have met faculty members on March 1 to "shed more light on the situation", and to reiterate that the school stood behind Dr George when the latter sought tenure in 2009 and in this year.

    He first revealed this point and a brief process of seeking tenure to four final-year students during a meeting on February 28. The students initiated an online petition which attracted close to 850 signatures from Dr George's former and present students, as well as academics from other institutes.
  4. The petition, which was started on February 25, called for the university to affirm Dr George's teaching credentials, and to "disclose the reasons behind the decision to reject his tenure".

    In an open letter, prominent members of Singapore academia and civil society, including filmmakers Kelvin Tong and Royston Tan, and sociology professor Dr Daniel P.S. Goh, asked the NTU administration to review Dr George's case.

    A group of overseas academics have also released a public statement on the case of Dr George, and "strongly caution our colleagues working in the area of Internet and society in any dealings with Singaporean universities".
  5. How the outrage started

    The outrage over the past week was sparked by news that Dr George was denied tenure a second time. Cardiff University's Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, who reviewed Dr George's tenure, tweeted February 23 evening that he was denied "on academic grounds". Outraged at the university's decision, she suggested in subsequent tweets that it could be politically motivated.
  6. An NTU spokesperson released a statement on the tenure process at about 2100H GMT+8 on 26 February, but did not reveal any further details:
  7. Worldwide attention

    This issue received worldwide attention. At home, Yahoo! Singapore reported the story on February 25 and updated it the next day to reflect the university's statement. The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, TODAY and Shin Min Daily News also had reports in their February 27 issues.
  8. Reports from overseas media outlets include Malaysia's The Star, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and even Kuwait's Arab Times (all via the Associated Press wire), while BBC Vietnam (presumably) had its own report:
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