Alfred Runte: Denied Tenure

Historians in the News

Piper Fogg, in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only) (Feb. 16, 2004):

Alfred Runte came up for tenure three times at the University of Washington at Seattle. Three times he was denied. In the early 1980s, Mr. Runte, an assistant professor of history, went up early for tenure on two occasions. He considered his publishing record and his teaching exemplary. Both times his department voted in his favor, but the chairman and the college committee voted no. He says they cited a"lack of intellectual growth."

By 1985, Mr. Runte recalls, he had his doctorate, had published a book on the U.S. national parks, with one on Yosemite in the works, and had received a $30,000 grant. Again his department gave him the nod, but the eight-person college council voted against him a third time.

The university's president advised him to move on."I was flabbergasted," says Mr. Runte."I left there obviously kind of dejected." He tried desperately to find another academic job but says the stigma of having been denied tenure was too big to overcome.

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