Cornel West Denied Tenure At Harvard


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Cornel West, professor, public intellectual and progressive activist, resigned from Harvard after a tenure dispute.

West accused the university of "spiritual rot."

"How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay," he wrote in a letter. "The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large."

Harvard denied him an opportunity to receive tenure, the indefinite academic appointment that makes it extremely difficult to remove professors.

The resignation also comes as concerns about how academic institutions treat Black scholars were made. West, graduated from Harvard and earned a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University, and taught at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Union Theological Seminary over the years. In 2002 he left the school after a public dispute with Harvard's then-President Lawrence Summers, but rejoined in 2017.

West accused the university of denying him a tenured position because of his support for the Palestinian cause.

"This kind of narcissistic academic professionalism, cowardly deference to the anti-Palestinian prejudices of the Harvard administration, and indifference to my Mother's death constitute an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of deep depths," he wrote. "In my case, a serious commitment to Veritas requires resignation -- with precious memories but absolutely no regrets!"

West and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City announced he would be rejoining Union as faculty.

"I am honored to return back home to Union, to a place with brilliant faculty and moral tenacity and that provides an opportunity to continue to work with students who are eager to put their faith into practice while striving for justice and seeking of truth," West said.


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