MIT Professor Begins Hunger Strike

Denise Lavoie, AP, Feb, 5, 2007

A black MIT professor began began a hunger strike Monday to protest the university’s decision to deny him tenure, which he claims was based on race.

James Sherley, a stem cell scientist, said he tried for two years to persuade administrators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to reverse the department head’s rejection of his tenure bid.

“I’m not actually doing this to get tenured,” Sherley said. “I’m doing this for the reason that I wasn’t tenured—which is racism—and I want this institution to admit that that is the problem and make plans to do something about it.”


University administrators denied Sherley’s allegations and said less than half of junior faculty members are promoted to tenured positions.


The 5-foot-8, 254-pound professor said he planned to ingest only water, vitamins and electrolyte supplements until the university acknowledges its racism.

Sherley, 49, works with adult stem cells and opposes research using human embryonic stem cells because he believes it amounts to taking human life. In September, he won a prestigious $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.


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