MIT Shuts Down Professor James Sherley’s Laboratory

James L. Sherley, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT, had his faculty appointment terminated last week. The locks on his laboratory were changed and police were stationed outside the facility.

Professor Sherley was denied tenure in 2005. He contends that the decision to deny him tenure was driven by racist views among his departmental colleagues. He filed a formal complaint with the MIT administration seeking to reverse the department’s decision.

After two internal reviews failed to reverse the tenure decision, in February 2007 Professor Sherley went on a hunger strike protesting institutional racism at MIT. He called off the hunger strike 12 days later after MIT agreed to negotiate an end to the stalemate.

But no further progress was made in resolving the dispute and MIT decided that it would not extend Professor Sherley’s employment.