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Noble wants MIT salary data

MIT has been asked to provide information on the earnings of all tenured faculty members since 1983 for an upcoming trial, according to David F. Noble, a former associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and now a professor at Drexel University. Noble sued MIT after he failed to receive tenure from STS in 1984.

Noble wants the salary information to determine the amount of lost opportunity damages he might seek if the jury finds against MIT.

The information sought comprises both financial compensations, such as salaries and pension benefits, as well as opportunities for career development, which include grants awarded to and public offices held by tenured faculty members at MIT.

"Being at MIT implies opportunities for compensation of all different kinds: salaries, tuition reimbursements, and network benefits like grants and consultantships," Noble said. "In this respect, the contrast between MIT and Drexel is striking."

As of yesterday, MIT had not responded to Noble's request, and none of MIT's lawyers were available for comment.

Four years ago, Noble filed a $1.5 million lawsuit charging that MIT denied him tenure on political, not academic grounds.

While on campus, Noble had been a vocal critic of many of the Institute's ties with the private sector, which he felt corrupted the mission of universities. His writings, which focus on industrialization in the United States, are based on Marxist philosophy.

The case between Noble and MIT will be resolved in a jury trial on a date to be determined at an upcoming court conference. Noble said he expects the trial to occur sometime next year.

Middlesex County Judge Robert Hallisey authorized the jury trial on May 18, despite repeated efforts over the past few years by MIT to prevent public disclosure of documents pertaining to Noble's tenure review.

"MIT has wanted privacy from the beginning [of Noble's suit]," said Maggie Hassan, MIT's lawyer from the Boston-based firm of Palmer and Dodge, in June. A confidentiality restriction had been imposed on the court proceedings in 1986 at MIT's request.

Noble said he views the authorization of the jury trial as a victory, noting that MIT filed two briefs, on April 23 and May 3, calling for "private hearings." Both of these were declined by Hallisey in his decision.

Noble spent two years in the courts earning the right to see the documentation from his tenure review committee. He spent another two years trying to make that documentation public.

At the time of the trial, the comments and assessments made by the individual members of Noble's tenure committee will be fully entered into the public domain.

Noble, in a letter to the chairman of the MIT Corporation, David S. Saxon '41, explained that he undertook the tenure suit because of "the strict confidentiality of MIT's tenure proceedings and the lack of any meaningful institutional appeals procedure."