Academic Deference and Discrimination Involving Tenure Denial in Kunda Versus Muhlenberg College

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Academic Deference and Discrimination Involving
Tenure Denial in Kunda versus Muhlenberg College
School of Health Management
A. T. Still University

Academic Deference and Discrimination Involving
Tenure Denial in Kunda versus Muhlenberg College
Connie Rae Kunda, an untenured faculty member at Muhlenberg College brought suit against Muhlenberg College for sexual discrimination in her bid for tenure at the college (Sloviter, 2007). The district court awarded reinstatement along with back pay from the date of termination and promotion to assistant professor as well as being awarded the ability to obtain her master’s degree and if successful, be tenured (Sloviter, 2007). Muhlenberg College appealed the decision by the district court based on the principle of academic deference where the court should defer to the expertise of the academic institution regarding employment decisions of its faculty (Sloviter, 2007) (Kaplin & Lee), 2007).

A question does arise as to why the appellate court gave conditional tenure to Ms. Kunda instead of deferring to the institution since this obviously deals with faculty promotion and tenure issues. The court had determined that the dean and the president of the college had discriminated against Ms. Kunda in their refusal to award her tenure (Sloviter, 2007). She had received disparate treatment relative to male faculty up for tenure in that she was not counseled regarding the need for a master’s degree as were her male colleagues. She was also denied tenure by the president on the wishes of the dean despite unanimous approval from her peers for tenure (Sloviter, 2007). The court actually did not award tenure but made it conditional upon her completing her master’s degree (Sloviter, 2007).

Another question raised by the case concerns why the court did not remand the tenure decision back to the college after Ms. Kunda received her master’s degree. The court evidence points to discrimination on the part of the...
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