Princeton Bound? First he had a public row with President Summers, now Prof. West says he’s thinking of finding a new academic home


Cornel West looks to Princeton

University President Larry Summers has been working overtime to mend fences with national luminary Prof. Cornel West and other professors in the College’s Afro-American Studies department.

The Boston Globe and The New York Times previously reported that West and Professor K. Anthony Appiah were considering leaving Harvard after an October meeting between West and President Summers ended in a dispute. During that meeting, Summers reportedly criticized West for his activities outside of the University, such as recording a rap album during a medical leave of absence and working on Rev. Al Sharpton’s campaign for president.

“I have never been attacked and insulted in that particular way,” West said during a recent NPR interview. West also confirmed reports that he is considering a move to Princeton.

“It’s not simply a sense of turning away from Harvard, it’s also a turning toward something that is positive, something that is visionary, something that is appreciative,” West said.

Summers and West met on January 3 to clear up what some at the University have called a “misunderstanding.” During that meeting, Summers reportedly apologized.

Summers told The Crimson: “I would never criticize someone for taking a medical leave nor have I criticized any faculty members concerning extracurriculars.”

Though West and Summers “cleared the air,” the Boston Globe and The New York Times had reported that West and Appiah were also offended by Summers’ lack of support for affirmative action. In response, the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a press conference at Harvard on New Year’s Day, while the Rev. Al Sharpton threatened to sue Summers for trying to prevent West’s participation in his campaign. At the height of the dispute, both newspapers reported that West and Appiah were weighing offers at Princeton.

Since the January 3 meeting, however, tempers have cooled, and Appiah denies that he was considering abandoning Harvard for Princeton.

Others at the Afro-American Studies department told The Crimson that the racial dimension of the conflict had been blown out of proportion.

West’s spokesperson in the conflict, law Professor Charles Ogletree, praised the statement President Summers released on January 2 in support of diversity. In that statement, Summers promised to maintain the University’s “longstanding commitment to diversity.”


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