*Dr. Cornel West has resigned from Harvard University after the Ivy League school denied him a tenure review in February.
In his letter, which he shared on social media, West accused the school of “spiritual rot” and noted that he can “still end his career with some semblance of intellectual intensity and personal respect.”
“This is my candid letter of resignation to my Harvard Dean. I try to tell the unvarnished truth about the decadence in our market-driven universities! Let us bear witness against this spiritual rot!” West wrote in the tweet accompanying the release of his letter.
“How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay,” he wrote. “The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.”
Read the full letter below.
This is my candid letter of resignation to my Harvard Dean. I try to tell the unvarnished truth about the decadence in our market-driven universities! Let us bear witness against this spiritual rot! pic.twitter.com/hCLAuNSWDu
— Cornel West (@CornelWest) July 13, 2021
The professor and activist was previously tenured at Harvard before he quit in 2002. In his letter, he explained that since he came back, the school ultimately rejected him for another tenure review due to his support of Palestine.
“… To witness a faculty enthusiastically support a candidate for tenure then timidly defer to a rejection based on the Harvard administration’s hostility to the Palestinian cause was disgusting,” West wrote. “We all know the mendacious reasons given had nothing to do with academic standards.”
The letter goes on to call out the “ narcissistic academic professionalism” that he experienced at Harvard.
“This kind of narcissistic academic professionalism, cowardly deference to the anti-Palestinian prejudices of the Harvard administration, and indifference to my Mother’s death constitutes an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of deep deaths,” West wrote.
One Twitter user responded to his tweet, “I’m not as impressed w/ this letter. Mr. West came to Harvard w/o tenure & w/ “promises”. He’s not 25. Anyone over that knows to get anything in a job offer IN WRITING, or it’s meaningless. Negotiations must be up front. Hurt feelings over his mother’s passing clouding the issue.”
Another wrote, “Glad you spoke on the lack of compassion, empathy, and common decency shown at the loss of your mother. Its subtle but endemic. Similarly at another top Ivy, lost my dad suddenly and crickets. Deafening silence, pernicious and dare I say, racialized. Our pain is trivialized.”
A third said “As a radical teacher committed to economic and racial justice, I would love for you to teach at UC Riverside—where I work—which is part of the illustrious UC public institution where you will be celebrated and embraced. In contrast to the Ivy League schools, which are nothing.”