Conservative professor Keith Fink has been officially let go from his position as part-time continuing lecturer for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Fink has been undergoing his Excellence Review process regarding whether his employment at UCLA will continue after his 18th quarter of teaching. On Tuesday, Dean of Social Sciences Laura Gomez sent Fink a brief letter informing him of her decision to let him go, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Wire:
I write to inform you that your appointment as a Continuing Lecturer, effective January 1, 2018, was not approved. after a thoughtful and comprehensive academic review, it has been determined that your teaching does not meet the standard of excellence. The effective end date of your last employment as a Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies will be June 30, 2017.
Fink provided the following statement to The Daily Wire in an email:
Dean Gomez' letter to me is devoid of any reason or rationale. I articulated in a seven page letter numerous concerns about the procedure and substance of my Excellence Review to Dean Gomez all of which she ignored. In return, she responded a month later with a five sentence letter comprised mainly of pleasantries, lacking substance or accountability. Despite being biased she refused to recuse herself. Why does UCLA ask a teacher to list those who are biased if there is no recusal? Why isn't a teacher after ten years of teaching entitled to some explanation as to why he is no longer able to teach? I intend to ensure that the UCLA is held accountable to the fundamental principles of free speech, due process and fairness. To that end I am establishing a non-profit that will provide free legal services for UCLA students and teachers whose rights have been violated. I will always fight for principles that we hold dear as Americans and will continue to be the one person UCLA students can count on for help when needed. I have been offered many teaching opportunities and will continue to be a positive role model and inspiring teacher for young people.
Fink's teacher aide, Andrew Litt, excoriated Gomez in a text message to The Daily Wire.
"This was preordained," Litt seethed. "What a joke. No recusal. No analysis. As expected."
Litt also noted that no one in the review process had any expertise on the subject matter that Fink teaches – free speech and employment law – and that Fink had requested for Gomez to seek "the input of the campus' (arguably the nation's) preeminent First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh." But her letter suggests that "she solicited nothing."
Indeed, Fink's letter to Gomez is filled with substantive arguments explaining how he meets UCLA's standards of excellence, while Gomez's letter is substance-free. You can read Fink's full letter here.
As The Daily Wire has previously reported, Fink has been railroaded during his review process from the get-go, which ultimately resulted in a deadlocked panel vote on his future at UCLA, leaving the decision in the hands of Dean Gomez, who seems to have a bias against Fink.
Meanwhile, The Daily Wire has received some of Fink's student evaluations from this past spring quarter and the vast majority of them are overwhelmingly positive:
I'm a science major who normally has no interests in classes like these. When I say this was one of my favorite classes here at UCLA, with the most passionate professor I've ever had, who made me want to learn a new field, I am not exaggerating. Professor Fink cares for his students like no other, and you always feel secure and welcome asking a man of his stature for help. His class was organized, concise, and he was very well spoken. I cannot point out any direct weaknesses because I feel nothing was needing of improvement. His strengths are the remainder, and they speak for themselves.
If I could rate every single category of this survey as a 10 instead of a 9, I would have. Professor Fink has been, by far, my most interesting, intriguing, articulate, and well-spoken instructor I've had here at UCLA. His class has single-handedly compelled me to pursue a career in law and has increased my interest 10 fold. It's really a shame that he has been under attack by the department because this is the best (in all aspects) communications course I've taken. If I could take his courses every quarter, I most definitely would. And I really hope he is not removed from teaching because this class really forces students to critically think about events and situations before they assume their position. With the current political leanings of the campus, I think it'd be valuable for every and any student to take his classes. He challenges you and forces you to question your own beliefs. He creates more conscientious and empowered students who know their rights. All in all, an amazing course that everyone should have the opportunity to take.
In my 4 years at UCLA, I've had a great deal of excellent professors but the one that stands out the most among them is Professor Fink. I first took his Free Speech on Campus last quarter and this experience was so life changing that I HAD to enroll in his class this quarter. Professor Fink is one of the few Professors at UCLA that TRULY cares about his students and he makes an effort to help students in any way that he can. The classes are conducted as Socratic Seminars and this method makes the class very engaging and helps my learning and understanding of the court cases. There has been controversy surrounding this course as some may view Professor Fink as being too conservative, but the truth is that Fink remains mostly neutral throughout the discussions and always plays the devil advocates in order to encourage dialogue and discussion. His class made me understand the importance of colleges remaining a market place of ideas with free speech as one can only defend their opinion by understanding both sides. If Fink were to be fired for being deemed "not excellent," this would be robbing future bruins the opportunity to take one of the most rewarding classes at UCLA with one of the most excellent professors in the campus. Interesting class... I have learned so much..
It seems that the UCLA administration wanted Fink out and used his Excellence Review as an opportunity to do so. They have gotten their wish, but in the process the university has a lost a popular professor who had a profoundly positive impact on his students.
Gomez's full letter can be seen below: