A former assistant professor in the Department of German Studies is suing Emory University, alleging that administrators engaged in discriminatory practices when denying him tenure in 2010.

The lawsuit, filed by H. Erik Butler last month, claims that the University rejected to offer him tenure on the basis of his nationality and origin and, in the process, failed to follow proper college-governance principles. Both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have criticized the University’s actions and supported Butler’s allegations in letters — obtained by the Wheel — to University administrators.

Butler, an American Jewish male, began his career at Emory as an assistant professor during the 2004-2005 academic year and served in that position until 2010-2011. He was on unpaid leave in fall 2007 and paid leave in fall 2009.

“Given the nature of my case, both [the AAUP and EEOC] could see the merits of my grievances, and both of them could see, from their perspective, that at least matters had been improperly handled by the institution,” Butler said in an interview with the Wheel.

Butler, who is currently unemployed and living in California, now seeks to recover damages including, but not limited to, lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, loss of reputation and loss of career momentum.

The University, however, has denied Butler’s claims. In a statement to the Wheel, Vice President for Communications and Marketing Ron Sauder wrote, “All actions taken by Emory University with respect to Dr. Butler, including the decision to not grant him tenure, were taken for legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons.” He added that Emory “stands by its decisions” and will “vigorously defend those decisions.”

The lawsuit alleges that former Provost Earl Lewis and University President James W. Wagner denied Butler tenure due to German Studies Department Chair and Associate Professor Peter Höyng’s criticisms and negative evaluations of Butler.

“Emory allowed Associate Professor Höyng’s bias to become part of its negative assessment of Dr. Butler for tenure,” the lawsuit states, also claiming that “Emory failed to follow the processes and procedures for the application and award of tenure … and breached its employment contract with Dr. Butler.”

Negative Evaluations 

Filed on Dec. 17 in the Superior Court of DeKalb County, the lawsuit states that Höyng had voiced objections to Butler’s teaching and research since 2008, despite speaking highly of Butler’s work before then.

The tenure review process for Butler began during his second year at the University, which is standard procedure for assistant professors. In his first tenure review during the 2004-2005 academic year, then Department Chair James Melton gave Butler an overall rating of “exceptional.” Höyng also rated Butler “exceptional” in 2006-2007, though a student had filed a complaint against Butler, which the lawsuit claims was inaccurate.

According to the lawsuit, Höyng began expressing concerns in 2008 about Butler’s research focus on Germany’s “dark past” and xenophobia, or a fear of foreigners, in the country. Höyng allegedly criticized Butler for a “lack of ‘collegiality'” and described Butler’s research as “not German enough” because it focused “too much on Jewish matters.” The lawsuit specifies that Höyng is a native German and not Jewish.

Höyng declined to comment because the lawsuit is ongoing.

In Butler’s fourth-year tenure review, completed in 2008, faculty within the Department of German Studies — including Höyng — and outside the University evaluated him. Tenure-track professors are typically given more thorough reviews in their fourth year, which may include external reviews of the professor’s research.

Because Höyng served as department chair, he wrote a detailed letter explaining the committee’s assessments and a recommendation for either the renewal or non-renewal of Butler’s appointment on the committee’s behalf.

The committee’s outside reviewers approved of Butler’s performance in his fourth-year review, but Höyng — speaking only on behalf of himself — alleged that Butler had “violated the principal of collegiality, as outlined in the Principles and Procedures for Promotion and Tenure,” on multiple occasions, according to the lawsuit. The Principles and Procedures state, “The idea of ‘service’ includes displaying a collegial spirit of cooperation and avoidance of disruptive behavior.”

The lawsuit alleges that Höyng’s objections to Butler were actually motivated by “discriminatory intent” on the basis of Butler’s national origin and religion, especially given the fact that other faculty members spoke optimistically of Butler.

By the end of the evaluation, four members of the Review Committee recommended Butler for tenure, and Höyng abstained.

Fearing that Höyng’s alleged discrimination would impact his tenure application, Butler requested that Emory postpone his tenure review a year, at which time a different department chair would conduct his review. Emory denied his request.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, a German Studies Departmental Tenure Review Committee led by Höyng voted to recommend Butler for tenure by a four-to-two vote, with Höyng and another professor opposing.

The committee’s assessment was forwarded to the College’s Tenure and Promotion Committee and the College dean. Both recommended Butler for tenure, and the file went to Lewis.

When reviewing Butler’s tenure file, Lewis “became concerned about the collegiality issue” that Höyng discussed in his assessment, the lawsuit notes. In granting tenure to assistant professors, the provost is responsible for determining whether to send the file to the University president, who then decides whether to submit it to the Board of Trustees for final action.

Lewis subsequently arranged a telephone conference with the Departmental Review Committee — a step that the lawsuit cites as “highly unusual and inappropriate” and against commonly accepted college-governance principles.

According to the lawsuit, Lewis asked members of the committee: “Does Dr. Butler fit in at Emory?” This enabled Höyng and another professor to “act on their bias against Dr. Butler,” the lawsuit claims.

Ultimately, Lewis did not recommend Butler for tenure. The lawsuit alleges that Wagner then denied Butler’s tenure application “solely on Provost Lewis’ recommendation.”

“A candidate does not earn tenure unless he or she is approved at all levels,” Sauder wrote. “Emory has very high standards for achieving tenure.”

Lewis, who left his position at Emory at the end of last semester to accept the position of president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, declined to comment, writing in an email to the Wheel that he is no longer a University official. He, along with Wagner and Höyng, directed all questions to Emory communications.

Sauder wrote that the University could not comment on the specifics of the case given the fact that Emory is in litigation.

Fighting for Appeal: The AAUP’s Role

Former College Dean Bobby Paul first informed Butler that he would not receive tenure in a June 6, 2010 letter. Paul wrote in the letter that Butler would be able to continue his appointment only through the 2010-2011 academic year.

Butler sought to appeal the University’s decisions, but, later that month in a letter, Lewis informed Butler that he would be unable to do so.

“That appeal procedure applies to cases in which a negative decision arises at the Department level or at the Dean’s level,” Lewis wrote in the letter. “In this case, because you were recommended for promotion and tenure at each of those levels, upon further review, the appeal procedure … does not apply to your case.”

Gregory Scholtz, the AAUP’s associate secretary and director, wrote to University President James W. Wagner in July that under AAUP-supported standards, faculty members have a right to appeal if they allege that the decision “was based significantly on considerations violative of academic freedom or of governing policies forbidding discrimination.”

The AAUP is a national organization that supports academic freedom and shared governance.

Following the AAUP’s letter to Emory, the University permitted Butler to “appeal limited solely to procedural irregularities.”

EEOC Finds Discrimination

The U.S. EEOC — which is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination against job applicants and employees — has also criticized the University’s actions.

Before approaching the EEOC, though, Butler filed a complaint of discrimination to Emory’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP), which investigated the matter and found no discrimination. The lawsuit alleges the review was “inadequate.”

In a March 8, 2012 letter regarding the lawsuit, the Director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office Bernice Williams-Kimbrough wrote to the University that the EEOC has found “reasonable cause” to conclude that the University discriminated against Butler, especially since the “Charging Party’s lack of collegiality could not be substantiated.”

Within the letter, the EEOC invited Butler and University administrators to engage in conciliatory talks and establish a “just resolution,” though no such discussions have taken place.

Sauder wrote that the University “respectfully disagrees with the EEOC’s opinion” but did not comment further.

A trial date has not yet been set.

— By Jordan Friedman

Read an update on the lawsuit here.

  • Former Student of Butler’s

    It’s no surprise to me that Butler’s work was considered ‘exceptional,’ given that the man is simply brilliant and that his eccentric interests so wonderfully complemented those of the other faculty members in the department, therefore adding value to the education of the undergraduate students of German. However, it is no bigger surprise to me that his conduct was considered ‘disruptive’ and lacking in ‘collegiality,’ considering the professionalism he seemed to forget when walking into our classroom.

    For example, I’m not sure that we really needed to see a YouTube video of his favorite Canadian comedian, given that it was completely unrelated to the subject matter of the course. He was nonetheless aware of his tendency to get off track, which may be the reason he chose Schmerz als Genussmittel (pain as a means of pleasure) to be the topic of our course; this obviously gave him the perfect excuse to bring up his tenure denial and discuss the pleasure Höyng was supposedly experiencing as a result of Butler’s pain. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was a single class sitting that went by without some sort of ruthless, incredibly bitter comment about his legal situation and/or colleague. Not to mention, Butler’s language was unnecessarily and unprofessionally colorful just to add the perfect twist.

    If this was his on-stage performance, I can’t even begin to imagine what went on behind the scenes. As my semester with Butler carried on, his behavior made it clearer and clearer to me why he had been deemed as not fitting in at Emory. Lieber Herr Professor, it’s time to move on…

    • EaglePride

      Move on to what?

  • Alumni of German Department

    I once saw Prof. Butler preparing for some sort of event in the lounge area, just to the left of the front door when you walk into the modern languages building. A secretary of some sort asked him if he wanted a projector.

    His response?

    “Pronto, Tonto.”

    The most oddly racist reply ever…which is ironic because he’s accusing Prof. Hoying of racism. I also remember Butler blasting German death metal from his office, back in the day when the department was located on the first floor of Trimble.

    As a former student of Prof. Hoyng’s, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him utter a racist remark. This has nothing to do with Butler being Jewish.

    It MAY have something to do with Hoying disliking him, but the bottom line is that it wasn’t just Hoying. I don’t think ANYBODY in the department liked him.

    Bringing allegations of racism years after he was dismissed is a petty, vindictive move.

    That being said, Butler really was brilliant. It’s a shame he couldn’t keep his personality in check.

  • Emory alum

    Look, this man (Butler) is EXACTLY why we have universities. You get exposed to new ideas, you stretch your mind, and you learn to make up your own mind. The students above obviously think the university is a place where you go have your ideas about things confirmed, everyone speaks quietly, and there’s no stakes. But Butler believes ideas matter, that there are passionate reasons for doing what we do, and this is why he arouses such passions.

    The man knows a dozen languages; he has written about, as far as I can tell, everything; and he had the full support of his entire tenure and promotion committee–except for three people–which involved reviews from a big campus committee as well as outside reviewers.

    Stop talking about personality as if it should determine why people have jobs or not. Butler did what he was supposed to do (and beyond) for his teaching and research, and the University fired him because three people didn’t like him.

    If that isn’t discrimination, what is?

    • Alumni of German Department

      It’s not about his “ideas’ you. No one disputed that he’s brilliant. And it’s not about him “challenging my ideas” too much

      The bottom line is that he consistently displayed unprofessional behavior in the workplace, both to his colleagues and in front of his students.

      If he had provoked some challenging dialogue and not been a huge ass to everyone while doing it, he’d still be at Emory. When you hire someone, collegiality and mutual respect both matter. Butler was extremely bright, but was clearly lacking in both of those departments. And that’s where the conversation ends.

      Yes, personality DOES MATTER in determining whether people should have jobs and it’s extremely immature for you to think otherwise. Obviously you’ve never worked in an environment where someone consistently displayed unprofessional behavior or you’d think otherwise.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gtgoff Garrett Tyler Goff

        Having also been a student of Professor Butler, I must agree with “Emory alum” above – Butler’s teaching and research successes should have weighed much more than the subjective complaints (objectively baseless) of one person (Höyng) and those (Earl Lewis) in his small circle of influence who were, perhaps, malleable enough to be influenced by his opinions. I suspect that President Wagner, who I generally know to be very thorough in working to understand all sides of issues before making decisions, perhaps mistakenly relied on the opinion of Earl Lewis after he was pushed by Höyng.

        Personality and being “agreeable” are too often a crutch leaned upon by faculty at Emory who are unable to perform in other arenas – it is irrelevant in the presence of true ability. I’ve found that my best professors were the ones who did not bother trying to become close friends with everyone in their respective departments.

        • Alumni of German Department

          It was not the “subjective complaints” of one person.

          Aue didn’t like him.

          Waniek didn’t like him.

          Schaumann didn’t like him.

          Westbrook didn’t like him.

          Not a single one of them liked him but they were willing to give him a mulligan because of his intellectual gravitas.

          Hoying, on the other hand, was the head of the department, and was much more willing to be the focal point of criticism. That’s why he was ultimately the one who wrote the letter.

          • Johnny

            This is absolutely incorrect. The article says that the dept vote was 4-2 in favor of tenure. The chronicle articles say that the dean supported tenure and the tenure committee voted 10-0 in favor of tenure. That’s 15-2. You should examine the record before opining as to the opinions of people who are no longer with us.

          • Johnny

            This is just flat out wrong. Emory’s bylaws state that the dept chair has to write a letter describing the dept.’s tenure review to the college’s tenure committee. Citation:

            Höyng did not write the letter because only he could tolerate the criticism. You are just making things up now.

      • Emory alum

        “Alumni,” you’ve taken the energy to respond to every comment on this story, each time pointing out that Butler was “unlikeable” and–you believe, in a continuum– “unprofessional.” If you leave your individual, subjective responses aside, you might be able to see why the AAUP as well as the EEOC as well as the tenure and promotion committee all believed Butler should get tenure.

        The AAUP states that they categorically reject “collegiality” as criteria for tenure. Why? Because it leaves the door wide open for personal biases, prejudices, and every flavor of discrimination to enter into tenure decisions. If someone being a “difficult personality” was a great case for firing him or her, I think you can see we’d have a very poor working population, emptied of people who “don’t fit in.” It’d be homogenous. And–out of fear–no one would ever fight for their rights to frame things differently.

        Try to separate personality from the work. All we can ask is: Are they doing the work? If not, let ’em go. But if they are, keep them and treasure them. There are lots of big personalities out there, and we’re going to work with all kinds of people before our careers are done. We’re lucky when we get to encounter people who are productive and push the envelope, and don’t just lie down quietly when something unfair happens that affects all of us.

        I’m glad the AAUP sides with work over the nebulous, discrimination-inviting category of “collegiality.” And if Emory respected academic freedom, they would too.

        • Alumni of German Department

          What does acting like an ass to your peers have to do with “lying down quietly when something unfair happens?” Butler was the way he was long before anything perceived as “unfair” in his tenure case happened.

          If you think this is my subjective bias, that’s fine. Let’s wait and see which member of the German department comes out to support him. And if the answer is “none” then I’ll be proven right.

          • Johnny

            Four out of six already did.

  • Ramius
  • Will Bailey

    I took a course with Dr Butler my junior year and even though I feel that he may not have been as professional as other Emory professors, he was dedicated to teaching the course and I learned a lot about the origins of film noir from German cinema. I also took a course with him for independent study and I found him to be much more professional one on one. I wish he was granted tenure. He pushed the envelope and made me appreciate modern German literature.

  • Alumni of German Department

    Johnny, I’m not “opining as to the opinion of people who are no longer with us.” The faculty’s distaste for Butler was well known. The fact that that the vote was 4-2 means nothing, considering how passive-aggressive most of the enmity towards Butler was.

    • Johnny

      This makes no sense. The entire dept hated him and did not want him to have tenure but overruled the chair 4-2 in favor of tenure because of their passive aggression toward Butler? The tenure committee must have really hated Butler when they voted unanimously in favor of his tenure; as did the Dean. You my friend, received a remarkable education from the German dept.

      • Alumni of German Department

        It makes perfect sense. The department did not find him collegial, yet 4 people were willing to stomach it because he was a superstar and made them look good by association. 2 people were not so willing, and one of those 2 was the head of the department, whose job it is to pay attention to things like harmony in the workplace.

        The tenure committee probably wouldn’t have been familiar with Butler on a day-to-day level, so they voted strictly on the resume — one that was undeniably impressive and got him a 10-0 vote.

        And all of that aside, the idea that the department is somehow anti-Semitic is nonsense. They’ve been teaching a holocaust film course for quite a while now, and there are two separate Nazi-oriented courses this semester alone, one of which is called “Coming to Terms with Nazi Germany.” Not to mention the fact that Miriam Udel-Lambert, a pre-eminent Jewish-Yiddish scholar, has been involved with the German department for years, The idea that his research was “too real” for Hoying is completely unfounded. Look at Hoying’s own research:

        “A Dream of a White Vienna after World War I: Hugo Bettauer’s The City Without Jews and The Blue Stain.” At Home and Abroad: Historicizing Twentieth-Century Whiteness in Literature and Performance. Ed. La Vinia Delois Jennings. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009. 29-60

        Would an anti-semetic professor have written that?

        At the very worst, they just didn’t like each other.

        • Johnny

          And I have a friend who is black. 15-2, 15-2.

          • Alumni of German Department

            Did you seriously just compare publishing serious, time-consuming work about a famous satirist of anti-Semitism to “having a black friend?”

            Wow. Okay.

          • Johnny

            And if you want to talk about the quality of academic research, take the collective works of the current tenured professors (Schaumann, Höyng, and Maxim) and compare them to Butler. He carried the dept.

          • Alumni of the German Department

            Am I to interpret that deflection as you giving up on calling Hoying an anti-Semite?

          • Johnny

            Your point about having to prove that Höyng is an antisemite is not relevant. Read up about standards of proof with regard to civil rights cases

            It about being treated differently despite being just as qualified. No where does it say that you need to prove what someone else thinks. Based on your logic, Justice Thomas could not have sexually harassed anyone because of his career at the federal EEO.

  • Alumni of the German Department

    …in which case all Hoyng has to do is point to the “service” requirement for tenure promotion, which collegiality is a part of, as a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for why he did what he did.

    Bullet point #3: “Was the boss mad at you because of something you did that did not relate to your sex, race, age, etc. What did the employer tell you was the reason the action was taken? Do you believe what the employer says? If not, why?”

    I’m sure Butler will argue that he doesn’t believe what Hoyng says because of this alleged conversation, but Butler’s account of that conversation seems a bit odd, considering Hoying’s own publications regarding Jews, don’t you think?

    The Clarence Thomas analogy is not accurate. You’re comparing the title of an office to a published expression of interest and opinion.

    • Johnny

      4-2 departmental profs said service was fine.
      10-0 college profs said service was fine.
      1 Dean said service was fine.

    • J. Michales

      Clarence Thomas authored multiple EEOC guidance memos about sexual harassment and how terrible it was. All EEOC chairpersons have.

  • Alumni of the German Department

    Okay. So point me to the part of the tenure policy where it says that if two people from a six-person department vote not to grant tenure, the concerns that the two people express are therefore discrimination.

    I’ll wait.

    “Was the boss mad at you because of something you did that did not relate to your sex, race, age, etc. What did the employer tell you was the reason the action was taken? Do you believe what the employer says?”

    Even if Hoying just thought he was a dick, that’s not discrimination. That’s cattiness.

    • Johnny

      Was he qualified? Yes (according to dept, college and dean).
      Was he denied tenure? Yes.
      Have other qualified german profs who aren’t Jewish/American been granted tenure? Don’t know but my guess is “Yes.”

      • EaglePride

        Did the AAUP say that it appeared to violate faculty self governance? Yes.
        Did the EEOC say that it appeared to be discrimination? Yes

        • J. Michaels

          EEOC found “Reasonable Cause” 5.6% of the time in their last recorded year.

          Seems like a pretty high bar to me.

          • EaglePride

            “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it has found reasonable cause to conclude that Emory University engaged in illegal discrimination and retaliation in its 2010 decision to deny tenure to H. Erik Butler, then an assistant professor of German. Mr. Butler (…)”


            Look, I know this kind of thing can get emotional and I don’t like that my school is getting sued for discrimination. But I don’t see how the feds may have an agenda here. They have nothing to gain by being unfair, they investigated it, they say it’s discrimination. Until I hear facts to show that it wasn’t discrimination, I going to go with the EEOC.

    • EaglePride

      You don’t seen to understand the question: Why did they fire their best professor?

  • Alex P

    I took German Film with this guy in Fall 2005. He spent every single day bashing Bush and Cheney to the point that the conspiracy theorist in me wondered if he was planted there by David Horowitz. I remember one particular class in which Butler played us a remix of “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash interspersed with George W. Bush quotes suggesting Bush loves cocaine. “I just wanted to show you that,” Butler said. What did that have to do with German Film?

    Nice guy, but come on.

  • This is Crazy

    This comment thread is a hot mess. Smart money says people featured in this article are commenting under various handles. “Alumni [sic] of the German Department,” even if you are Hoyng himself, invoking the private and now unknowable opinions of the late and lamented Max Aue to gain the upper hand in this pigsty shitshow of a thread is trashy and cheap. Shame on you.

    To anyone who’s reading this rather than starring in it: only thing that strikes me having read the filing is that Lewis appears to have acted improperly and against both democratic outcome and mandated procedure (at EMORY? why never…). Butler will get something given that part of the case. The discrimination angle and damages related to that are more complicated, and harder to prove, but the EEOC filing at least means that the administration will have to take a fairly vigorous route to defend itself on that front.

    Apart from that what’s really apparent here is that academia appears to be populated by wretched and troubled people who are all about egos and power games. But where’s the surprise in that?

  • Concerned friend of Dr. Butler

    A friend recently sent this article to me. I knew Erik Butler both as a professor and as a friend. He was unfairly denied tenure. There is no doubt in my mind. This man was a brilliant teacher and produced some amazing research. He could have easily chosen a different career path and gotten into a top law or medical school. But he chose to devote his life to studying the culture of European Jews, which the Nazis tried to erase from history. He was truly a scholar. How many people do you know who can learn fluent Polish in their 20s? This man did. He was always interested in the life of the outsider, because he himself was an outsider. No matter how many languages he knew, or how great his published research was, he was not accepted as part of the team because of his race. He was not denied tenure for failing to meet the criteria. He was denied for not fitting in with the department’s culture. He was too intellectual, too neurotic, to much of a complainer, basically too much of a Jew. Dr. Butler treated everyone equally, no matter their race, religion or gender. He was not bitter about the murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Rather he wanted to preserve their memory. And now he winds up unemployed, with his reputation defamed by an institution which failed to give him due process. As a fellow member of the Jewish faith, I am outraged. How can this occur in our day and age? How could Emory let this happen? Why aren’t there protestors occupying the German department? My family knows a lot of high up people in AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League. I am going to make sure that this case gets the attention it deserves. I would like to end with a line from the Steven Spielberg film “Munich”,”And the Angels told god, now the Egyptians will hear your message. What message? Don’t fuck with Jews.”

    • A Student Voice

      “Why aren’t there protestors occupying the German department?” Because it’s damn hard to get Emory students to protest and occupy administrative spaces when entire DEPARTMENTS are unfairly and improperly liquidated. And given how rapidly so many Emory faculty invoke student protest, rely on the gains they make to leverage deals with admin, and then sell those students out the moment they get the specific professional deliverables they want, why should we keep sticking our necks out for them? No offense to Dr. Butler, he’s a good guy, and I wish his suit the best, but the cynicism by which faculty here appeal to student activism only to piss all over it once they get what they want or the slightest pressure is put on them by the administration does exactly the opposite of inspiring student courage. This university is already well on the road to get the culture of complacency and deal-making it deserves.

      • Crafty

        How have faculty pissed all over student activism regarding the cuts? What deals were struck?

        • A Student Voice

          Check out the article in this edition of the Wheel about the Klehr letter to admin. A lot of those people initially were vocally against the cuts … and now, suddenly, are a bloc saying we shouldn’t even review them. That also and the protestations of various faculty reps at governance meetings saying they would NEVER, EVER be associated with the activism – of their own students!

    • Ratings, Recruiting, and AAUP-Governance

      The vote of the faculty was 4-2 and 15-0 in favor of tenure: Does the governance of this federally-funded university require the provost to respect the vote of the faculty, either because of what the charter says or because of federal funding?

      That is the issue, nothing else: Not personality, not religion, not race, not ratings.

      The provost has suddenly departed. Will the president overrule the provost?

      If not, will the court overrule the president? If not, then Emory will conduct its fundraising, pursue its (US News &World-Report) ratings, and attempt faculty-recruiting with these barnacles slowing it down.

  • http://gravatar.com/abbyk13 abbyk13

    I haven’t finished reading all the comments, so if this is redundant, I apologize. As a graduate of the German department who had a class with Butler during the year he was undergoing review, I can say that, it’s not just about people not liking Butler, it’s also about him being a very bad teacher, which, personally, is the most important factor to me, given the amount of money we pay to attend Emory. Not only was Butler EXTREMELY inappropriate and bad-mouthed the department and all his colleagues every time the class met, but I can’t remember a single time we had a discussion in German the whole semester, even though it was an Upper-Level German class. I don’t major in a language so that I can avoid speaking it for a whole semester and for it to get worse, I want to actually use my language skills and improve, which definitely did not happen in the courses I took with Butler. Regardless of all the personal stuff and everything else, by the mere fact that he couldn’t teach, I fully support the Department and the University’s decision and was not at all surprised by it.

    • Johnny

      Nice try Amy Adelman. God, you’re a dolt. Read up moron…

      • Absolutely apalled

        OF COURSE the AAEC has to follow through.. it’s about discrimination! If word were to get out that they didn’t pursue a case about discrimination, they would have problems of their own.

        And as a result, OF COURSE Emory hired a good law firm to ensure their safety.

        I met Hoeyng on the Vienna Summer Program a few years ago, during which time he had many opportunities to share “off-the-record” information with us in more casual settings. Being the man that he is though, he didn’t take any single one of these opportunities. Instead, he constantly reminded us that our behavior would be representing Emory–and this is definitely a man who practiced what he preached. He executed his duties as Program Director with nothing but professionalism, and he greatly valued the image he carried as a professor at Emory.

        He also took us on a tour of Jewish Vienna, sharing with us the depth of history in what is otherwise called a “beautiful” city, and making sure we understood the complexity and tragedy of reality. After an experience like that, the idea that Hoeyng would fire someone because of their race/religion is absolutely laughable to me. It seems that he would have to completely lose his grip on professionalism AND forget everything he’s ever researched in order to follow through with such a ridiculous action.

        As for Butler, however, I’m not sure he though too frequently about the professionalism or repercussions of his actions. It seems to me that he couldn’t care less about the image he personally paints/painted of Emory. Perhaps the easiest way out of having his character and work ethic criticized was to find a scapegoat.

        Finally, to my dearest Johnny: I highly recommend you send in an application to the College of Butler, opening this fall. It’s for rude, relentless jerks who completely lack respect, get a buzz off of putting others down, and (wait for it…) praise all things Butler! If you aren’t accepted for the next term, maybe you could try going back to 8th grade, where your kind of discourse and behavior is tolerated. If you will accompany your friend –you know, the so-called “moron”– in reading ratemyprofessors.com, you will see that there are mixed reviews about Butler’s performance, and even if the website HAD captured him an entirely flattering light, this collection of not-so-credible ratings does not in any way invalidate the personal opinion of Miss abbyk13, who by the way, is most CERTAINLY a speaker of German and not Amy Adelman according to her use of commas: “…I can say that, it’s not just about people not liking Butler…”
        I hope you’re not directly a part of the Emory community, because it’s devastating to think that one of my peers would accuse Emory officials of hiding behind a facade in order to post on the website of the probably insignificant Emory Wheel. (No offense, Wheel editors– keep up the good work!)

        To those of who have contributed to a civilized conversation about this: Thanks for sharing your experiences/knowledge.

        • Absolutely apalled


        • Outsider looking in

          It’s not an issue whether Hoyng is a racist or an anti-semite. Who knows and who cares? Was procedure violated? Yes. Were contested statements (“Butler’s a total jerk”) that are unverified and possibly the result of biased parties (who might be racist and/or anti-semitic) given credence? Yes. Who did this? Lewis, evidently. You might have noticed that he hightailed it away from Emory when the EEOC reached its determination. Now there’s a new EOP director, and half of the professors in German have been replaced by (untenured) lecturers. It also looks like their secretary is gone. Is this fishy? Yes. Does the government step in when it’s just a matter of personal dislike? I’m sure they have better things to do in Georgia! Who’s Amy Adelman? Claire Sterk could do something about this, she’s the provost now. So could Wagner.

          • Absolutely apalled

            It appears that you may be reading too far into some of this. The secretary moved away from Atlanta because her husband got a great job offer. This was completely unrelated to the case. The tenured lecturers have only stopped working due to retirement or, in one case, an unexpected death. None of them were “replaced” just for the sake of being replaced. Perhaps some of the other seemingly “fishy” facts are coincidences too. Maybe not, but I think it’s important to consider the possibility. I’m just not sure any of us know enough about the situation to make a fair judgement, so maybe it is best for a fair trial to be held.

          • Outsider looking in

            You sure know a lot, Absolutely. Is that your real name? Will you be on the stand?

  • Outside looking in

    But the Department did decide to give him tenure! What’s going on here? The Provost turned down his candidacy, nobody else. Sounds like some people didn’t like Butler or his style (which is normal in any case) but most did – students, faculty, etc. Where’s all this hostility coming from?

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  • EaglePride

    This is a joke. If Emory is in the clear, why did they hire the most expensive law firm in Atlanta to represent them. So glad my tuition dollars went to good use.

  • Tenure: Not everyone deserves it.

    First of all, Johnny needs to give up the pen name and own up to the fact that he is Erik Butler. It is absolutely unfair that “Johnny” would state that Butler “carried the department” in comparison with his ex-colleagues. The pedagogical innovativeness displayed in the department, particularly in the works of Professor Maxim, are widely acknowledged in the academic community as highly talented and very important. How could such a personal attack help his cause? Secondly, if Butler is such an intellectual prodigy, why did he not simply interview at other top universities? He has effectively ruined all chances of that now. As for his reviews from students, there will always be students who love the “cool” professor who plays YouTube clips the entire semester, but there are many more students who appreciate having an organized, approachable, and most of all professional educator. Butler clearly failed to contribute to the high teaching caliber and service for which the Department of German Studies is renowned. There are enough brilliant scholars who are also excellent educators, and these are the people who deserve tenure at a university like Emory.

    • Legal Eagle

      I dont’ know if “Johnny” is Erik Butler, but I assume that Dr. Butler wouldn’t really need to engage in personal attacks at this point. He has the AAUP and EEOC on his side, as well as everybody who reviewed his work at Emory except for Hoeyng and Lewis. It looks like he’s the one being attacked here! I don’t know why he’s not at another university, but you don’t need to look very far to see that programs everywhere are just being cut, irrespective of the brilliance of people teaching and researching there. ILA, anyone? Please stop trolling. If Butler’s really such an awful person, evidence can be produced at trial. This is just name-calling, please cut it out for the sake of Emory, if nothing else.

      • Yay! This is a Trainwreck!!!

        This comment thread is a shitshow! I like most how in all the ad hominem slander, outing commenters, etc. the rather basic detail has been overlooked: Lewis’ intervention in the tenure process, overturning the majority vote, flatly violates Emory’s own policy, straight-up. This part of his case will carry. The discrimination, etc., his teaching impression, etc, all that is he-said she-said nonsense that won’t carry in a court – but he will doubtless win something because the violation of procedure is undeniable.

  • former emory student

    It’s surprising how insistent some people on this thread are that a couple people not liking one professor means that the professor shouldn’t get tenure. This is just not how the world works. Look at famous artists, CEOs, writers, intellectuals: they don’t have unanimous popularity ratings. If universal likeabilty were a standard for success, we wouldn’t be a very interesting species.

    What’s really remarkable is that Butler is so accomplished AND had extremely high ratings and votes for tenure. That’s something.

  • Radek

    How come the Emory Wheel never wrote an article about how Sam Eshagoff’s mother almost sued the University?

    • A Better Emory = More of the Same

      The “almost” is a big point there. But if you have details on that that you want to divulge, by all means. This thread is a clusterfuck of crazy but can only get better!

      • Radek

        Well the whole story never came out. But here is the word on the street. Emory tried to kick Sam Eshagoff out because he took the SATs for other Long Island kids and it reflected badly on Emory in the press. Sam Eshagoff’s mother (who I assume wasn’t wealthy because her son was on financial aid) threatened to sue the school. I guess she would represent him because she’s a lawyer. Emory probably hired a bunch of expensive lawyers and found out it was a legal grey area to kick him out for something he did outside of the college. So they just let him stay until the end of the semester. But if they did kick him out, he could now come back and say that what Emory did with lying about its SAT stats is just as bad or worse than what he did. But he’s probably forbidden to do that by some kind of contract.


  • Public Relations Fund-Raising Recruitment

    1. This case can become a magnet. There is laundry no one should see. In a place as big a Emory, there must be similar cases.

    2. Looks like Emory should settle this quickly.

  • Respect For Due Process As A Condition of Federal Funds For Education

    Outsider looking in says:

    February 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    It’s not an issue whether Hoyng is a racist or an anti-semite. Who knows and who cares? Was procedure violated? Yes. Were contested statements (“Butler’s a total jerk”) that are unverified and possibly the result of biased parties (who might be racist and/or anti-semitic) given credence? Yes. Who did this? Lewis, evidently. You might have noticed that he hightailed it away from Emory when the EEOC reached its determination. Now there’s a new EOP director, and half of the professors in German have been replaced by (untenured) lecturers. It also looks like their secretary is gone. Is this fishy? Yes. Does the government step in when it’s just a matter of personal dislike? I’m sure they have better things to do in Georgia! Who’s Amy Adelman? Claire Sterk could do something about this, she’s the provost now. So could Wagner.
    What does respect for due process require in this case? Will publicity make Emory a better place, worthy of federal funding?

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