Cornel West Has Had Enough, Threatens To Leave Harvard Over Tenure Rejection

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Cornel West
Cornel West Has Had Enough, Threatens To Leave Harvard Over Tenure Rejection. In this photo, West speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in Detroit, Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Cornel West is threatening to leave Harvard University after the school denied his request to be considered for tenure. Currently a public philosophy professor who also teaches in the Divinity School and African and African American Studies Department, West said he will not put up with disrespect.

“It’s sad you have to go through this again,” West told the Boston Globe Thursday, Feb. 18. “But I wasn’t raised to put up with being disrespected or tolerate disrespect. I don’t try to negotiate respect.”

The renowned activist and critic was referring to the first time he left the Ivy League school in 2002 after a very public disagreement with then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers over West’s scholarship and the university’s affirmative action policies.

Summers repeatedly questioned West’s external activities including his position as an advisor to Rev. Al Sharpton, making hip-hop CDs and giving “easy As” to his students, the Globe reported.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin

Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

After eight years at the school, West departed in 2002 and went to work at Yale University, where he remained for a decade until he went to Union Theological Seminary in 2012. HE returned to Harvard in 2017.

According to West, 67, the current dispute began when he asked to be considered for the tenure process after a positive five-year review and his request was denied because he was told he was “too risky,” “too fraught” and “too controversial.”

He took to Twitter to air out his frustrations. “Is Harvard a place for a free Black man like myself whose Christian faith & witness put equal value on Palestinian & Jewish babies- like all babies- & reject all occupations as immoral?” West asked.

“After being tenured at Yale, Harvard, Princeton & Union Theological Seminary, the recent Harvard denial of a tenure process strikes me as a political decision I reject. Nothing stands in the way of my profound love for & solidarity with oppressed peoples wherever they are!!” he added in a follow-up tweet.

West said the university’s administration offered him a 10-year contract, an endowed chair position and a pay raise, but for him, respect for his worth and value is priceless.

“If I cannot be put up for tenure, then it is clear they don’t think I’m worthy of tenure. And I will go,” West said.

West’s supporters took to social media to express how shocked they were that not only did West not currently have tenure at Harvard, but that his request was denied when he asked for it.

“I’ve been gnawing on this b.s. sandwich all morning,” Cecilia King tweeted, adding, “shocked shocked he doesn’t already have tenure.”

“That Cornel West cannot get tenure at Harvard is as laughable as it is serious in terms of what it means to be a black scholar in primarily white institutions. And it points to the fact that black excellence can often not be excellent enough. I mean, West had to apply for tenure?” @MukomaWaNgugi tweeted.