To the editor:
To learn that Harvard’s administration is questioning Cornel West brings further lament to an already sorrowful historical period.
I am the same age as West, and I have been an academic my entire professional life. I have witnessed positive tenure decisions for those with a fraction of the accomplishments West has amassed. In fact, I doubt there is an academic in the country — outside of Cambridge — who could put forth a better candidate for tenure than Cornel West. From his scholarship to his teaching to his service to the academic and civic communities, West epitomizes what John Dewey’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sets forth as thresholds for tenure.
I have always tried to honor the AAUP’s mandate about making bonafide professional judgments when deciding matters like tenure. To deny West the opportunity to be considered for tenure is a failure on Harvard’s part to honor its commitment to the professorate. As Dante gave to Daniel and as Eliot offered about Pound, West is il miglior fabbro, the better craftsman who fashions good people speaking well — public intellectuals — in a world that desperately needs such citizens.
Let’s hope Harvard come to its senses soon!
Albert C. DeCiccio
Salem State University