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Harvard department chairmen yesterday praised a University of Georgia professor who returned to work Monday after a 90-day term in prison for not revealing his vote in a faculty tenure and promotion case.
"I think he's a hero," James A. Davis, chairman of the Sociology Department, said yesterday.
A U.S. District Court judge found the professor, James Dinnan, in contempt for refusing to say how he voted on the tenure and promotion of Maija Blaubergs, a female faculty member.
Blaubergs then filed suit against the University of Georgia, saying she had been discriminated against because she was female. Dinnan, who was fined $3000 in addition to his jail term, is a reading and education specialist.
"I would have done the same thing if I had his courage," John D. Montgomery, chairman of the Government Department, said yesterday. Questions of faculty tenure should not be decided by the courts, Montgomery added, but could be dealt with better within the university.
Wallace T. MacCaffrey, chairman of the History Department, also said yesterday the Dinnan case should not have been taken to court. "If there's an adequate system of checks and balances in the university, then the possibility of injustice is minimized," MacCaffrey said, adding that he respected Dinnan for refusing to reveal his vote.
Wilfred C. Smith, chairman of the Religion Department, praised Dinnan yesterday and blamed his being brought to court on "the general lack of trust in organizing academic life."
Dinnan, who entered jail in July, is scheduled to appeal the contempt order before an Atlanta Court of Appeals on November 3.
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