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Martin Eisen used to work at Temple University as a mathematics professor.
Now Eisen is pursuing a federal civil lawsuit against Temple University.
On Aug. 16, 1999, he was suspended from teaching undergraduate and core courses.
“He was terminated for being incompetent, according to Temple,” Eisen’s lawyer, F. Michael Daily, Jr. said. Eisen declined to speak on the record for this story.
Eisen began his 31-year career at Temple as an associate professor in 1968. He received tenure in 1972.
“Tenure has several different meanings,” Linda Mauro, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs said. “It shows that someone demonstrated to the University that they are excellent in teaching, scholarship or service.” Mauro explained that if someone meets the standards and is awarded tenure, the person is considered a permanent faculty member and must continually demonstrate these standards to keep their tenure.
Eisen wrote many books dealing with mathematics and sciences. Daily said that Temple has two different versions of Math 55. Eisen taught the more traditional course, while the other was more conceptual.
“It was the luck of the draw who got which version,” Daily explained.
Daily said that Eisen was very organized, very precise and demanding.
“He was literally an old school professor,” he said.
Daily said that students refused to change and expected Eisen to teach to their level. Daily said that instead of addressing their complaints to Eisen to get resolved, they went to the student ombudsman.
“We claim the administration felt that Dr. Eisen was a pain.” Daily said that the complaints were then brought before the Faculty Senate Committee, which wanted Eisen to change his teaching style. He refused. Daily said that they wanted Eisen to “dummy” down the course and that Eisen’s integrity wouldn’t allow him to do that.
The university claims that it “continued to try to get Dr. Eisen to reform his refusal to educate students enrolled in his classes,” according to court documents.
In addition, the documents stated that “[Eisen] would frequently degrade his students and referred to them as ‘ignorant and stupid,’ refused to answer students’ questions, repeat explanations, or to otherwise provide instruction or assistance to students concerning subjects that [Eisen] believed the students should know.”
Temple’s spokesperson, Harriet Goodheart, said she could not comment on the facts of the case.
Temple also denies the allegation that in the 1980s and through the 1990s it began admitting students who failed to learn basic high school algebra and had difficulty mastering certain eighth grade level mathematics. The University said that Eisen gave very few passing grades, had high failure rates, and high a percentage of students withdrew from his class.
Temple allowed students who placed into Math 55 to take the course.
The complaints against Eisen, dating from 1994 through 1999, were brought before three committees to be heard. The committees each reviewed the file and recommended that further action be taken.
“After concluding its proceedings, the Hearing Committee concluded that the faculty member’s conduct constituted neglect of duty and incompetence in meeting his teaching responsibilities,” said President David Adamany in a letter to the faculty.
In addition to wanting the case dismissed, Temple University is also suing Eisen for the monies paid to him “during the period in which he was found to have failed to perform his duties and responsibilities,” according to court documents filed by Temple.
“We’re in litigation,” said Susan Smith, a lawyer for Temple. “If we lose the case, there is the possibility of appeal or less than a complete loss.”