Cornel West resigns from Harvard, cites ‘spiritual rot’

Academic has been at odds with Harvard in the past, states race and politics influenced his departure

News Desk July 14, 2021
Cornel West, an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, and public intellectual. PHOTO: REUTERS


Cornel Ronald West, an American philosopher, political activist, social critic and public intellectual, resigned from the Harvard University owing to what he described as the institution's “spiritual rot”, RT reported.

The academic has been at odds with Harvard in the past and has maintained that race and politics influenced his departure.

In a resignation letter penned in June but posted on Twitter on Tuesday, West wrote, “How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay”.

Continuing to air his grievances at the school, he claimed that the “shadow of Jim Crow” looms over its campus, and slammed the “superficial diversity” apparently embraced by the management.

West had previously announced his departure from Harvard back in March, after he was passed over for a tenured position. He said that he would be leaving Harvard for a position at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he was an assistant professor in the 1980s.

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In his letter, West complained about having all of his courses – covering topics such as existentialism and American democracy – rolled under the banner of “Afro-American Religious Studies".

He claimed that his application for tenure was rejected due to his outspoken support for the Palestinian cause (Harvard reportedly invests heavily in companies linked to Israeli settlements on Palestinian land).

He also complained about receiving a low salary, being denied the sabbatical he asked for, and receiving little sympathy from the university following the death of his mother earlier this year.

“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 bankruptcy of deep depths,” he wrote in conclusion.

West’s resignation is not the first time he has publicly clashed with, and then left, Harvard.

Back in 2002, he departed Harvard for Princeton after then-president Lawrence Summers investigated him for missing several weeks of classes, allegedly inflating students’ grades, and releasing a hip-hop album that he called an “embarrassment” to the university.

In his defense, West claimed that the Harvard administration had it in for his Black Studies department, and that Summers “messed with the wrong Negro” by allegedly targeting him.


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