Prof. Kinzer’s instruction, time at Northwestern draws to a close

Alexandra Finkel

Prof. Stephen Kinzer, whose uncertain employment status last spring prompted student, faculty and alumni outcry, will leave Northwestern at the end of Winter Quarter.

Kinzer was hired in 2006 for a one-year appointment as the Charles Moskos Visiting Professor of Military Studies. The non-tenure track position led Kinzer to later sign a three-year contract, which required him to teach two political science courses and one journalism course each calendar year.

When his contract expired last winter and a new position wasn’t immediately offered, students offered their support to keep him on staff by creating a Facebook group and a petition which garnered almost 500 signatures. In April an Associated Student Government resolution called for NU to “rehire Professor Stephen Kinzer and keep him as an actively teaching professor.”

Kinzer was then offered a one-year adjunct post coupled with an almost 50-percent pay cut, he said. Although he accepted it, Kinzer said he never understood why the decision was made.

“I don’t grasp the details of how universities make the decisions they do, and this episode certainly doesn’t help me understand it any better,” he said.

Non-tenure track appointments like Kinzer’s are made at the school level, Provost Dan Linzer wrote in an e-mail.

“At the time they are recruited, some faculty on term, not tenure-line, appointments are offered ‘ongoing’ positions with the opportunity for renewal because the salary funds for these positions are part of the recurring budgets in the schools,” Linzer wrote.

Kinzer said once he was offered the adjunct position, he was not optimistic about his future at NU.

“They already cut my salary by 50 percent and made it clear it was a one-year thing,” he said. “As far as the University saw it, this was over.”

Faculty like Kinzer “are recruited as visitors with a clear understanding that their appointments would end,” Linzer wrote. “These positions are often supported by non-recurring funds, and thus a commitment is strictly confined to the length of the appointment.”

Kinzer said he plans to travel to Iran in the spring and complete a U.S. book tour in June.

Kinzer said he hopes to return to teaching but has yet to sign a contract at another university. While he said he had hoped his time at NU was longer, Kinzer said he is excited for the future.

“When doors close in life, other doors tend to open,” he said. “That’ll be true for me and also for Northwestern.”[email protected]