Gaining tenure is a critical juncture of university careers in the USA. Without it, you remain on ’soft’ money. With it, you have–in principle at least–a job for life. (There are positions that straddle the two extremes in some institutions.)
Recent news is that a neurobiology professor, named as Dr. Amy Bishop, at the University of Alabama in Huntsville apparently shot colleagues late on Friday afternoon after being informed that she was being denied tenure, as reported in the New York Times:
WAFF, the NBC affiliate in Huntsville, quoted university officials as saying the professor began shooting after learning at the faculty meeting that she was being denied tenure.
Three staff members are dead and three wounded. No students are involved.
A newer article, indicates that the meeting was for an appeal to an earlier denial of tenure and identifies those killed and wounded.
Source: New York Times. HT: @BoraZ.
An article is available at the local (NZ) news site, but at the time of writing lacks the additional detail of the NYT pieces. Additional international coverage is widely available, e.g. Guardian, CNN, New York Post, and so forth.
Update: The university website is reporting a full closure of the campus, with access to the site redirecting to this message.
17-Feb-2010: I am generally cautious about recommending Wikipedia as a source, but at the time of writing it appears to be one source that pulls most (but not all) of the different threads emerging in this case, largely without of over-playing the issues. It would increasingly appear that there is a substantial back-story as one might expect.