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Noble's statute belies tenure denial

(Editor's note: The Tech received the following open letter addressed to the David S. Saxon '41, chairman of the MIT Corporation.)

We the undersigned, were greatly concerned to learn from Newsweek [Apr. 4, 1988] of the continued dispute, and now a legal case, in respect to Professor David Noble's tenure at your institution.

We should like to point out that Noble's work is widely known and respected outside the United States as well as within it. In recent years his work has been translated into four major European languages and also into Japanese. His research and published works are highly regarded, not only be historians, but also by technologists. Indeed, it is true to say that some of those initiating the EEC's ESPRIT Project 1217 -- to design and build the world's first Human Centered Computer Integrated Manufacturing System, were informed and influenced by the work Noble had undertaken in respect of NC equipment.

In light of the above, it is difficult to understand why MIT appears to have overturned a unanimous tenure recommendation from its own Review Committee. We are also concerned that MIT appears to have denied Noble an adequate explanation of this decision; and in doing so, may have provided an unfortunate example to other universities worldwide. MIT could be seen to be acting in a manner which runs counter to the professional and academic standards one expects from world-class institutions.

Academic freedom is a precious right, and if it is diminished or undermined in any part of the world, it sets a dangerous precedent for all of us. We should therefore be greatly obliged if you could provide us with detailed information of MIT's decision, and we would very much appreciate your assurance that the Institute will take every step possible to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement to this disturbing case.

Dr. M. J. E. Cooley->

Slough, England,

and 44 others->