Middle East studies in the News
Controversial Tenure Case at Columbia U. May Be Over [on Joseph Massad; incl. Sudipta Kaviraj]
by Robin Wilson
It isn't official, but word around Columbia University is that the controversial Palestinian scholar Joseph A. Massad will be awarded tenure.
Sudipta Kaviraj, chairman of the department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures, said in a telephone interview this afternoon that the proceedings involving Mr. Massad's tenure case have not formally concluded. "When it is finished, the university writes to the department and writes to the individual concerned," he said. "That hasn't happened yet."
But another professor in the department who did not want to be named said word on the grapevine within the department is that Mr. Massad will be awarded tenure. The professor said that the provost allows the department chairman to alert a tenure candidate about the outcome of the decision prior to the final letters that are sent. That is apparently what has happened.
Mr. Massad is on leave this academic year and did not respond to an e-mail message asking for comment.
Mr. Massad's tenure case has been a highly unusual one. He was first granted a one-year extension on his tenure bid in the spring of 2007. A year later, the university's provost recommended that Mr. Massad be denied tenure after an ad hoc committee that considered his tenure bid split 3 to 2 in his favor.
But after senior professors in Mr. Massad's department complained to the provost, he apparently decided to reconsider the case and give the professor the unusual opportunity of a second chance at tenure. That second review has been occurring over the current academic year.
Mr. Massad's career at Columbia, which began in 1999, has been rocky. Much of his troubles date from controversy over a 2005 documentary film, Columbia Unbecoming, produced by an off-campus group called the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership. The film accused Mr. Massad of rebuffing pro-Israeli students and made him a target of pro-Israel groups.
Mr. Massad has denied that any of the incidents depicted in the film took place, but a faculty committee appointed by Columbia to investigate the accusations found that he had acted inappropriately in a couple of incidents. —Robin WilsonNote: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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