After two weeks of critical publicity and pressure from faculty and students, the Davidson College board of trustees voted today to end a long-standing policy requiring faculty, in all but rare cases, to be Christians in order to receive tenure.
Dr. Warner Hall of Charlotte, chairman of the trustees of the Presbyterian-related liberal arts college, acknowledged that the school's image had bee "blackened" following its decision to withdraw a teaching offer to Dr. Ronald Linden, a political science professor from Princeton, N.J., who is Jewish.
Linden was offered a post at the college after being told of the "Christian tenure" policy which generally required faculty, in order to get ted Christians."
Linden accepted the teaching job, but described the tenure policy as "morally repugnant, socially anachronistic and scholastically unwise." Furthermore, he said, he would support efforts to abolish the policy.
The college then rejected Linden's challenge and withdrew its offer.
The clash between Linden and the college, a small, academically respected undergraduate school, touched off a controversy which drew national attention. Both the American association of University professors and the American Political Science Association have asked Davidson for an explanation of its policy.
Students, aided by some sympathetic faculty members, boycotted an awards ceremony two weeks ago and began a petition drive against the policy. That drive culminated Thursday when nearly 2,000 people - including most of the school's 1,300 students and 100 faculty members - crowded into the school's art gallery to ask trustees to abolish the policy.
Today, the trustees met at regular session and voted to end the policy, substituting instead a new by law encouraging the college administration to "seek out and secure" for its faculty non-Christians who "respects the Christian tradition" even if they do not subscribe to all its to all its tenets.
In the meantime, Linden has accepted a position with the University of Pittsburgh. He was unavailable for comment.