Vanderbilt med school professor files complaint after being denied tenure

A Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor filed a complaint against the Nashville, Tenn.-based institution in November 2017, claiming the university retaliated against her and denied her tenure, Science reports.

Seven things to know:

1. A faculty grievance committee last month upheld a previous decision to deny tenure to BethAnn McLaughlin, PhD.

2. Dr. McLaughlin, who was initially approved for tenure in 2015, was eventually denied tenure in November 2017 and filed a grievance later that month. She claimed the university caused an "egregious delay" in her tenure decision and retaliated against her after she testified against a colleague in a sexual harassment case, among other allegations.

"What happened to me was not OK. Anyone looking to take a tenure track job at Vanderbilt should have grave misgivings if this is considered a regular process," Dr. McLaughlin told Science.

3. Though she was approved for tenure in 2015, Dr. McLaughlin claimed university officials derailed the process by freezing it for 17 months while a faculty committee conducted a disciplinary investigation into her over alleged anonymous derogatory tweets about colleagues, according to the report.

4. After the delay, the committee tasked with deciding Dr. McLaughlin's tenure held a vote that resulted in a mixed outcome, with five members voting in favor of tenure, three voting against it and one abstaining. The dean of the medical school called for a second vote, and during that meeting, members unanimously voted against tenure.

5. Scores of students have come out in support of Dr. McLaughlin, creating a petition with more than 10,600 signatures as of Feb. 15 to keep her on staff, the report states. Dr. McLaughlin told Science she has received conflicting reports from the university about the status of her employment.

6. Vanderbilt declined to comment to Science about the case, but Susan Wente, PhD, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a March 6 statement the institution does not "tolerate sexual discrimination or misconduct, nor do we tolerate retaliation against those that stand up against it," and said the "tenure review case driving recent conversations is ongoing and under close review."

A second spokesperson said: "Although it has been reported publicly that Dr. McLaughlin's employment ends on February 28, we are not aware of any deadlines tied to that date. The matter is ongoing and under careful review."

7. The university chancellor could overturn the committee's decision regarding Dr. McLaughlin's tenure by writing to the executive committee of the university's board of trust, the report states.

To access the full report, click here.

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