Professor Cornel West has followed through on his threat to leave Harvard University after a dispute over tenure. In a March 8 Tweet, West said, “I am moving from Harvard to Union Theological Seminary in New York City!” A statement on the seminary's website ( says West will join the faculty on July 1, 2021, and "will hold the prestigious Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair."

‘My swan song to Harvard!’

In a Tweet on March 5, West said, “This is my swan song to Harvard!” He added that students must be taught to continue “the great tradition of truth-telling and justice-seeking for all oppressed peoples, especially Black and Palestinian people!” The Boston Globe quoted West as saying that he had been denied tenure because his academic work had been considered "too risky," "too fraught," and "too controversial" by the university.

The 67-year-old professor told the New York Times that his age and his support of Palestinians could have also been factors in the university's decision.

West had been Harvard's Victor S. Thomas Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, the Boston Globe said. The paper noted that West had been teaching in the Department of African and African American Studies and the law school and divinity school. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the professor had been lecturing over Zoom from his home in the Boston area, the paper said.

The New York Times noted that the professor had threatened to quit his Harvard position if he did not receive tenure.

‘An intellectual giant’

Walter Johnson worked with West in Harvard’s Department of African and African American Studies.

He was quoted by the New York Times as calling West “an intellectual giant and moral polestar.” Johnson told the paper that it was “very sad for the university to see him go.”

The Boston Globe noted that this was the second time West had resigned from Harvard. The paper recalled that West had left the university in 2002 after publicly quarreling with then-President Lawrence Summers over the value of West's academic work and the credibility of affirmative action at Harvard.

The New York Times noted that West had returned to Harvard for a position without tenure in 2017.

The New York Times recalled that West had authored two bestsellers, Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He had also appeared in two Matrix movies, playing the role of "Councillor West," the paper said. The Boston Globe noted that the professor had actively supported the last presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Immediate tenure at Union Theological Seminary

The New York Times said that, at the age of 23, West had begun his teaching career at Union Theological Seminary. On the seminary website, a statement by Dr. Serene Jones, the president of the seminary, says "We are thrilled to welcome Dr.

West back home to Union where he started his teaching career, at this time of momentous challenge - and opportunity." The Boston Globe said that West would immediately receive full tenure.