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.


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