Cornel West threatens to leave Harvard after being denied request for tenure

“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,” said the professor.

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Cornel West may be leaving Harvard University, again.

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The renowned professor is ready to give the prestigious school his walking papers because they denied his request for tenure. This would be the second time he’s left the school for unfair treatment.

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“It is once again this issue of just not putting up with being disrespected,” said West, 67, on Thursday in an interview about his potential leave, per Boston Globe.

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

West currently teaches at the divinity school, law school, and Department of African and African American Studies. After a positive five-year review, West said his request for tenure was denied due to his substance of work.

“What I’m told is it’s too risky. And these are quotes. It’s too fraught. And I’m too controversial,” he said he was told. Harvard spokesman confirmed his request was denied but says the details around it are not as West described.

West is still waiting to hear back from a request to speak with Harvard president Lawrence Bacow.

“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,” said the professor.

West first left the institution in 2002 after a dispute with then-president Lawrence Summers over the school’s responsibility to affirmative action and his scholarship. He returned in 2017 after becoming a part of Princeton’s faculty and teaching at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

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A runner crosses Harvard Yard on March 23, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

West is not the only professor having issues with getting tenure at the school. Last January, 100 faculty members signed a letter urging the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, Claudine Gay, to investigate the process and its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Other Black professors have left the school over the last year and a half. Elizabeth Hinton departed for Yale University and Memorial Church minister Jonathan Walton left to become dean of Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity.

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“I don’t think they really understood how to keep these folk in terms of respect,” said West.

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