Middle East studies in the News
Joseph Massad's Double-Secret Tenure
by Martin Solomon
First he was denied, then they cried, then he came back for another try. Now he's in, because in the modern academy we don't keep score and there are no losers.
You know, things like this wouldn't happen if they'd just hire scholars and not polemicists in the first place, but because Columbia's Middle East department has made itself so political, it's impossible for them to conduct any sort of ordinary academic review process. The Massad saga goes on: Massad Got Tenure (Don't Tell Anyone)
Fourteen Columbia professors are protesting the university's apparent decision to award tenure to Joseph A. Massad, a controversial anti-Israel professor of Arab studies.
The professors are from the schools of law, business and public health. They expressed their concern in a five-page letter to the incoming Provost, Claude M. Steele. The letter asserts that the university's decision to guarantee Massad a life-time teaching post "appears to have violated" Columbia's own rules, thus raising profound questions about the university's academic integrity. The university's administration, weirdly, still refuses to confirm or deny that Massad won tenure, but yesterday the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department let the cat out of the bag---it announced a beginning-of-term party next week congratulating Massad on gaining tenure.
This week Provost Steele belatedly issued a polite, noncommittal response. In a four-paragraph "Dear Colleagues" letter to the fourteen professors, Steele, a former Stanford psychologist, says he would "welcome" a meeting to discuss their concerns. After he learns more about Columbia's tenure process, Steele writes, he may "want to make some changes in our procedures." But nowhere does he state that Massad has, in fact, been awarded tenure. Nor does he acknowledge that the professors raise deeply troubling concerns, that if true, go to the heart of what many regard as the core of a university's integrity...
What's new and interesting here is that, for almost the first time, faculty is willing to go on the record with their concerns. Brave, considering they know the conclusion is forgone, although that mitigates things somewhat since they can't be accused of going after Massad personally.Note: 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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