Cornel West publishes his Harvard resignation letter after tenure dispute

African American studies professor, philosopher, and activist Dr. Cornel West made his resignation from Harvard public and blames a tenure dispute for his decision.

On his social media accounts, he published a letter dated June 30 which said, “How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay. The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.”

The letter written was sent directly to his dean at the Harvard Divinity School.

West announced his resignation as a professor from the divinity school back in March to The Boycott Times.

West previously taught at Harvard and left in 2002 after a dispute with its president at the time, Lawrence Summers.

In the letter, West mentioned that after returning from Princeton to Harvard, he had a salary lower than what he earned 15 years prior and had no tenure.

“I hoped and prayed I could still end my career with some semblance of intellectual intensity and personal respect. How wrong I was!” he wrote

“The shadow of Jim Crow was cast in its new glittering form expressed in the language of superficial diversity,” he went on.

In March, West told the New York Times that he may have been denied tenure due to his age and his support of the Palestinian cause.

He revealed that after his mother’s passing, he only received two public replies, whereas news of awards or achievements usually receive 20.

He said that this behavior was “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.”

West’s letter was made public a week after another Black professor, Nikole Hannah-Jones, from the University of North Carolina announced she was not returning to the university because of a fight for tenure as well. She announced that she would instead join the faculty of Howard University.

The Union Theological Seminary announced that West would rejoin its 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 after the announcement.

“I can only take so much pettiness in terms of ways in which I thought I was disrespected and devalued,” he said in regards to Harvard.

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Photo Credit: Cornel West  CBS NEWS

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