Phi Beta Cons

Prudential (Presidential) Moment at Barnard

On March 30 I published a statement by scholars contending that Nadia Abu El-Haj of Barnard College, who is now up for tenure, has failed to meet the most minimal academic standards and in fact has slandered a distinguished scholar.
Today The New York Sun reports that campus president Judith Shapiro has decided to step down from office after serving for many years. Writer and Barnard alum Anna Quindlen, who chairs the college’s board of trustees, lauded the outgoing president for running the campus on “an intellectually prudent level.”
Prudence of course is synonymous with judiciousness. Will the outgoing president and the college’s board of trustees fairly consider and respond to the documented criticism of El-Haj’s scholarship, which among other grievous defects shows a disdain for scientific empiricism? Indeed, with the El-Haj tenure decision and a presidential search at hand, Barnard’s leadership has a perfect opportunity to more broadly examine the campus’s commitment to the preservation and transmission of evidence-based scholarship.
El-Haj should be denied tenure, and the integrity of Barnard’s curriculum and faculty research should be demonstrated, thus reflecting true intellectual prudence and setting an example for other campus leaders.

Candace de Russy — Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

March Mailbag

1. In response to this post, about the Fed and fiscal stimulus: “So are you saying that deficit spending is a free lunch because the Fed will keep inflation from happening? You say [extra government spending] won’t ‘raise economic output’ but what’s the harm of it if you’re right?” I see at least ... Read More


For your amusement, I hope, I’ve done a Jaywalking episode. It begins with a bit of the overture to Semiramide -- a Rossini opera I reviewed from the Met last week. Then I get into Russia and, after a while, China. The Marriott company fired an employee for “liking” a tweet by a Tibetan independence group. ... Read More

Campaigns for World Down Syndrome Day Go Viral

As World Down Syndrome Day approaches on Wednesday, several campaigns supporting those with the condition have taken over the Internet. Fifty mothers of children with the condition put together a viral video of them and their children singing along in the car. The video helped the children and their mothers ... Read More

Viva l’Italia?

Italy has just had elections, with very interesting results. I wanted to talk with Alberto Mingardi, which I have. He is one of the leading classical liberals in Italy -- the director general of the Bruno Leoni Institute, in Milan. (Mingardi himself is Milanese.) He is also an authority in arts and letters. In ... Read More