Cornel West Says Harvard Denied Him Tenure Consideration, Calls It 'Political'

Written by on February 19, 2021

Writer and racial justice activist Cornel West mentioned Harvard College denied his request to be thought-about for tenure, calling the varsity’s choice “political” in tweets revealed early Friday morning. 

“After being tenured at Yale, Harvard, Princeton & Union Theological Seminary, the current Harvard denial of a tenure course of strikes me as a political choice I reject,” the distinguished social critic tweeted. 

West, a professor of the apply of public philosophy, with a joint appointment between the Harvard Divinity Faculty and the division of African and African American research, additionally recommended in an earlier tweet that the varsity’s choice was influenced by his outspoken criticisms of Israel’s remedy of Palestinians. 

“Nothing stands in the best way of my profound love for & solidarity with oppressed peoples wherever they’re!!” he added.

West has indicated that he has thought-about leaving the Ivy League faculty over the state of affairs, in response to The Boston Globe, which first reported on his tenure monitor standing.

“It’s as soon as once more this difficulty of simply not placing up with being disrespected,” he advised the newspaper. (West left Harvard to show at Princeton in 2002 after clashing with then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers.)

West, who returned to Harvard in 2017, advised the Globe that he lately requested to be thought-about for the tenure course of after a constructive assessment.

“What I’m advised is it’s too dangerous,” West mentioned. “And these are quotes. It’s too fraught. And I’m too controversial.”

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan Swain referred HuffPost to the Globe’s reporting on his statements addressing the method West underwent:

“Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain mentioned he couldn’t touch upon the specifics of the provide the college made to West however gave particulars on the method he lately underwent.

“Following regular procedures, a school committee from each colleges to which West is affiliated lately really helpful his reappointment at his present rank, a call endorsed by the deans of each colleges and the college provost, Swain mentioned. West was notified and the college hopes he accepts, he mentioned. 

“West was additionally lately appointed to the Victor S. Thomas Professorship of Public Philosophy, an endowed chair place, on the Harvard Divinity Faculty, the college mentioned.”

Swain additionally advised the publication that the college committee that was chargeable for reviewing his reappointment doesn’t have the authority to conduct a assessment for tenure. 

Black professors, activists and public figures on Twitter responded to information of West’s denial of tenure consideration, saying that it exemplifies how Black students usually endure racial discrimination whereas working at white establishments. 

“It’s a reminder that people will at all times discover a strategy to attempt to demean Black students,” historian and College of Pittsburgh affiliate professor Keisha N. Blain tweeted partially. “Tenure and promotion are weapons colleges use towards us.”

Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Wake Forest College, in a Twitter publish Friday, referred to as West a “trailblazing public mental deserving of tenure in any American college.”

Harvard got here beneath fireplace over its tenure course of in December 2019, when ethnic research and Latinx research scholar Lorgia García Peña, who’s an Afro-Latina from the Dominican Republic, was denied tenure. A coalition of graduate college students and students despatched a letter to the college condemning the choice on the time. 

“Denying tenure to a school member of shade who’s actively serving on the committee for brand new hires in Ethnic Research undermines Harvard’s dedication and betrays efforts to advance range and inclusion at this establishment,” the letter learn partially. 

Peña addressed the controversy over West’s tenure standing Friday on Twitter.

“So Harvard doesn’t assume @CornelWest deserves tenure,” she wrote. “I’m feeling flattered to be in such nice firm. Sending you like, brother.”


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