Cornel West Submits Resignation Letter To Harvard After Tenure Battle

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Renowned philosopher and author Cornel West announced Monday (July 12) he would be resigning from his position at Harvard University School of Divinity. In a letter posted to Twitter, West said discrimination he faced in pursuing tenure drove him to leave the school. 

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

In March, the school reversed its original course of denying West tenure, but the professor noted it was only after external pressure.

“When the report put forward tenure, and it was then rejected, then I raised the question, ‘What was the reason for rejection?” West said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson. West said he was offered an endowed, but untenured position. 

“When I spoke with the deans, they told me, ‘There is no possibility of a tenure review, but we could give you money and a prestigious chair,’” West told The Crimson. “I said it was not about money or prestige.” 

Following the public tenure controversy, West announced he was ending his pursuit of tenure at Harvard and would be returning to teach at Union Theological Seminary in NYC where he taught over 40 years ago, The Washington Post reported.

West’s departure from Harvard comes soon after journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones announced she would be joining the faculty of Howard University after initially being denied tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her alma mater. 

Harvard student body president Noah Harris told The Post many students were reposting West’s letter “because it’s really bringing to light a lot of the treatment of professors of color .... We have to do a better job as a university, as a culture.”

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