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Romkes says proving discrimination based on his sexual orientation "would be impossible." After two years of wrestling with KU's administration, Romkes sounds almost beaten. He says he regrets not telling Bell earlier that he was gay, even if it would have cost him the job.
"In hindsight, I should have mentioned it in the interview because I could have avoided a lot of misery," he says, "If anybody would have had a problem, they wouldn't have hired me, and I would have been better off. I would have done my work anyway, but at a different place. And I wouldn't have to deal with this issue."
Romkes still holds a bit of hope that his position could be spared. He has filed a petition for a judicial review in Douglas County District Court. Judge Robert Fairchild hasn't said when he'll decide if the university followed proper procedures in denying tenure to Romkes. Romkes says he'll consider filing a civil lawsuit if he loses that, too.
Those within the School of Engineering say Romkes' teaching career is almost certainly finished.
"If you don't achieve tenure at Berkeley or Caltech or Stanford or MIT, you have options," says TenPas, who is tenured. "But if you don't achieve tenure at KU's School of Engineering, which is way, way down the list, the doors are basically closed."
Romkes knows that the hole on his résumé where tenure should be is a red flag for potential employers. Even with a fat National Science Foundation grant in his back pocket, Romkes knows it'll be hard to find another faculty job. So he is mentally preparing for a move to the private sector.
"The chances of me finding a faculty position are very slim," he says. "If I were to look at my record myself, I would wonder, 'What the hell is wrong with this guy?' "