Culled from Daily Mail
The famous public intellectual Cornel West has dramatically quit his job at Harvard University following a tenure dispute, accusing the esteemed school of ‘spiritual rot’ and ‘superficial diversity.’
In a resignation letter he shared publicly on Monday night, 68-year-old West slammed Harvard’s administration and revealed a litany of personal and professional complaints.
‘How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay,’ he wrote in the letter. ‘The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.’
Harvard University did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon.
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West returned to Harvard in 2016 with a joint appointment to the Harvard Divinity School and the Graduate school faculty of African and African-American Studies, after dramatically quitting the university once before in 2002.https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533
In the letter, he said he had accepted the untenured position in the hope that he could ‘still end his career with some semblance of intellectual intensity and personal respect.’
‘How wrong I was! With a few glorious and glaring exceptions, the shadow of Jim Crow was cast in its new glittering form expressed in the language of superficial diversity,’ he wrote.
‘All my courses were subsumed under Afro-American Religious Studies,’ he noted, claiming that this resulted in ‘no possible summer salary alongside the lowest increase possible every year.’
West accused the university of denying him a tenured position because of ‘the Harvard administration’s hostility to the Palestinian cause,’ which he supports.
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‘We all know the mendacious reasons given had nothing to do with academic standards,’ he wrote.
West also complained that when the department newsletter announced his mother’s death, he received only two public replies of condolence.
‘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!’ the letter concluded.
Veritas, the Latin word for ‘truth’, is Harvard’s official motto.
West is a celebrity in intellectual circles as well as popular culture, and made appearances in Hollywood films such as The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
He also made a guest appearance portraying himself in a 2012 episode of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock.
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He is a radical Democrat and socialist who is often outspoken on left-wing political issues.
In 2002, he got into a a widely publicized dispute with Harvard’s then-President Larry Summers, who reportedly rebuked West for missing too many classes, contributing to grade inflation, and neglecting serious scholarship in favor of economically profitable projects.
West quit in a fury and lashed out at Summers in public interviews, joining the Princeton faculty before switching to Union Theological Seminary and ultimately rejoining Harvard.
West said on Monday he was resigning with ‘precious memories but absolutely no regrets.’
West has written 20 books, including ‘Race Matters’ and ‘Democracy Matters’ and reportedly garners speaking fees of $50,000 to $100,000.
His resignation from Harvard comes amid a broader controversy over tenure and race in higher education.
Earlier this month, Nikole Hannah-Jones rejected the University of North Carolina’s tenure offer and will go to Howard University instead after she claimed a ‘powerful donor’ tried to block her from the lifetime role.
The New York Times reporter won the Pulitzer Prize for the 1619 Project which ‘reframed’ American history to focus on when the first Africans arrived to Virginia as slaves.
Nikole Hannah-Jones (AP)
Earlier this month, 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones rejected the University of North Carolina’s tenure offer and will go to Howard University instead.
But the 2019 series of essays has come under withering criticism for portraying American history as fundamentally racist and also containing historical inaccuracies and generalizations.
UNC had initially offered Hannah-Jones the role as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at their Hussman School of Journalism – a role which has been appointed with tenure since 1980.
But they later backed out of the offer of lifetime tenure amid criticism of her appointment, and she was offered a five-year contract after officials said they were concerned about her lack of a ‘traditional academic background’.
Hannah-Jones noted the influence of a ‘powerful donor’ to UNC, a reference to Arkansas newspaper publisher Walter Hussman, who revealed that he had emailed university leaders calling the 1619 Project about the legacy of American slavery ‘highly contentious and highly controversial’ before the process was halted.
But the decision not to give Hannah-Jones a tenured position sparked further outrage from the left, leading to UNC last week pulling off a second u-turn and deciding to approve her tenure.
They voted 9-4 to accept her application at a special meeting in a closed-door session that was invaded by her supporters, sparking an ugly brawl.
But Hannah-Jones refused to take up the officer, deciding to instead accept the position of Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at Howard, a historically black school in Washington, D.C.