Marcia Falk Vs. University Of Judaism
"Were there any great stories during your tenure that you couldn't get in the paper?" I asked.
Gene replied: "There was one story that I killed [in 1987] but not through pressure. My killing it was unpopular. Naomi Pfefferman, who I had hired, had done a long piece about the University of Judaism. There was a female professor there, a poet [Marcia Falk], who was popular among the students and had published a lot and had a PhD. When it came time for tenure, the president David Lieber, vetoed her tenure. He was popular and he was leaving. He was a humane decent man but he had a hard time with women. The faculty had been for her. There were some ugly incidents concerning students who had protested. Naomi had done a terrific job. We had the story. I regret that we didn't run it.
"I got calls from people on the board of the University of Judaism. Kill the story. They hadn't read it.
"I did some background. He [Dr. David Lieber] said to me, 'I can't bear this woman. She was obnoxious.' If we ran the story in its entirety, we would've had to come out with the reason she was denied tenure -- that the president and some of the faculty found her obnoxious. They didn't want her as a colleague.
"I should've run it but I didn't want to hurt her feelings."
"She didn't realize that?"
"No. Nor did Naomi. People thought I was knuckling under. The poet had had dinner at my house. In fairness to David Lieber, I would've had to say that, so I killed the story. If I were working at The New York Times, I wouldn't have killed the story, but I felt that a community newspaper has an obligation to people in the community to not hurt them unnecessarily. That is not a journalistic view."
Marcia Falk responds August 21, 2005:
Dr. David Lieber replies to my inquiry on this matter:
Liturgist and poet Marcia Falk sued the University of Judaism for not giving her tenure and won a settlement. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) came in and helped her. She had a great attorney.
Similar to another case, there was word put out by sources at the UJ (in 1988) that Falk was a bitch. But a national professors association -- AAUP (American Association of University Professors) -- issued a report that censured the UJ for its handling of the Falk case. The AAUW (American Association of University Women) also wrote a report on it that criticized the UJ.
Dr. Lieber had an anonymous evaluation committee to decide whether or not to give Dr. Falk tenure. The committee largely depended on the opinions of six outside referees. The UJ committee said the six outside workers had a low opinion of Dr. Falk's work. But when Dr. Falk approached the six, they all said they'd highly praised her work and recommended her for tenure.
The 1988 AAUP report states:
Dr. Falk has a BA in Philosophy from Brandeis University and an MA and PhD in English from Stanford. She was a Fulbright junior scholar and later a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was an assistant professor of English and Hebrew at the State University of New York at Binghamton from 1974 to 1981. From 1981-84, she was an associate professor of English at Pitzer College. She joined UJ in 1984.