As the four-year legal battle between the Harvard Business School and one of its former tenure candidates draws to a close, many B-School professors contacted this week said that they are increasingly less certain that Harvard will win the case.
Still, the majority of professors from the bustling case-factory across the River contacted over the last week say they are paying scant attention to the suit of former professor of industrial marketing Barbara Bund Jackson '66, in which a federal judge's verdict is expected sometime next month.
Jackson is suing the University and Dean of the Business School John H. McArthur, charging that she was denied tenure because she is a woman. Jackson is asking Federal Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, Jr. to award her a tenured post, attorney fees and $847,000 in lost income. If she succeeds, Jackson will become the fifth woman to join the school's tenured ranks throughout its 80-year history, and one of four women currently among the school's senior faculty.
Ford Professor of Business Administration Emeritus Lawrence E. Fouraker, who served as dean of the Business School until 1980, said in an interview last night that while Jackson was at the school while he was dean, he was not following the case at all. "She never discussed any complaints with me," he said of Jackson. Jackson first came up for tenure in 1981.
His successor as B-School dean, McArthur, has repeatedly refused to speak to the Crimson.
Professor of Business Administration Carliss Y. Baldwin, who is one of the three women currently among the school's senior faculty, said she is not following the case and she does not think its outcome will affect her.
Although few professors said they thought Jackson had suffered discri- mination, many said they thought the formerprofessor was more likely to win the case thanthey had originally thought.
Professor of Business Administration Regina E.Herzlinger, who was the second woman to gaintenure at the B-School, when asked during an April1987 deposition whether she thought differenttenure standards are applied to women than men atHarvard, said she did not think so.
But in an interview this week, Herzlinger said,"There were elements of Barbara's cases--both ofthem--that were handled differently from men'scases." She added that at the first 1981 meetingon Jackson's tenure, "I stopped a discussion,which I viewed as just excessive about herpersonality, with a comment that we were notelecting `Miss Congeniality."'
"I think there is some merit to Barbara's case,although I don't feel this is a sexist and highlydiscriminating environment," Herzlinger said. "Inever felt the University was likely to win thecase. I think Barbara's charges are very serious."
Another B-School faculty member said he hadthought Harvard would win, but "my odds have beendecreased. I think less surely that they wouldwin. I think the evidence seems damaging. It's alittle chancy."
Herzlinger, who along with other professorssaid the case is being talked about across theRiver, said "Faculty members and administrationand alumni--everybody is aware of the case--Ialways have it mentioned to me."
Though he would not elaborate, anotherprofessor said he thought the University andMcArthur may be treated differently in Woodlock'sfinding. "It's not necessary that all thedefendants are equal. I'm not sure that anyverdict that comes will treat all the defendantsequally," he said.
The professor, who attended many of themeetings surrounding the Jackson case, said hethought Jackson's denial of tenure was a fairdecision that was the result of a badly-handleddebate.
"My view on the case is that I think that thepromotion decision was basically a correct one,but that the process that took place was certainlyflawed--not flawed in a sense that it wasdiscrimination," he said. "Some-how the picture ofwhat that person is and what the person has donedoesn't come through completely to your ownsatisfaction. This flawed process might not haveoccurred so easily if a man had been up."
Many professors interviewed said simply thatthey were not following the case and would notspeculate about the litigation or the effect itmight have on the school.
"I certainly haven't followed it in detail. Theinformation hasn't exactly been paraded," oneprofessor said.
Some professors defended McArthur fromJackson's recent filing in court charging thatstatements he made are inconsistent with documentsturned over to the court earlier this month. Onefaculty member called the alleged contradiction inthe dean's testimony "a very understandableerror." Yet another blamed the surfacing of thenew documents on "terrible document-handling.