Harvard's West Heads to Princeton

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Cornel West, one of Harvard's most distinguished black-studies professors, is leaving for Princeton University after a falling-out with Harvard's new president, Princeton said Friday.

In a statement, Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman said West was ``a popular and dedicated teacher during his previous tenure at Princeton, and we are pleased that he has decided to return.'' West previously taught at Princeton.

His appointment is subject to approval by the board of trustees, which meets on Saturday.

West did not immediately return messages left at his office.

It is the second defection from Harvard's black studies department this year. K. Anthony Appiah accepted an offer from Princeton in January, citing personal reasons, not the dispute with Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

Harvard's department has been at odds with Summers, who took over the post last year, because he did not make a strong statement in support of affirmative action at an early meeting with department members.

Summers was also said to have rebuked West for recording a rap CD and leading a political committee for the Rev. Al Sharpton's possible presidential campaign. He also reportedly accused West of allowing grade inflation in his introductory black studies course.

West, who has cancer and is on leave from Harvard, said he was ``dishonored,'' and threatened to leave for Princeton, where he taught religion and led the African-American studies program until 1994.

``All of us in the Harvard community are grateful to Cornel West for his significant contributions to Harvard's academic life, especially the great inspiration he provided to so many students,'' Summers said in a statement. ``We will miss him and I wish him every success at Princeton.''

West gained prominence with his 1993 book ``Race Matters,'' and has also work on such projects as the Million Man March, confabs on hip-hop music and national youth gang summits.

The head of Harvard's black studies program, Henry Louis Gates Jr., has said he will decide this summer whether to follow his colleagues.


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