[It is certainly a relief to see some Columbia faculty response to the administrative errors emerging from Low Library. I could not believe the introduction that Bollinger gave to Ahmadinejad whom one could see from other interviews that day (e.g. with Charlie Rose) was trying to back away from some of his extreme statements. Bollinger’s assault on West Harlem and other faux pas with faculty and students may well spell an early demise to his presidency of Columbia. I fear as a Columbia degree holder that the university is once more running full speed ahead towards rough seas without competent ones at the helm. Ed Kent]

November 12, 2007 Edition > Section:

Faculty Group: Bollinger Allying With Bush Administration

BY ANNIE KARNI – Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 12, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/66312

The president of Columbia University, Lee
Bollinger, is coming under attack from the campus
left, with 70 faculty members accusing him of
allowing outside interests to sway the school’s
tenure decisions, and of aligning the university
with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq.

In a statement signed by professors who say they
are troubled by a lack of autonomy at Columbia, a
group calling itself the Faculty Action Committee
accuses Mr. Bollinger of conflating his own
political views with those of the university. The
group also accuses Mr. Bollinger of failing to
issue a statement rejecting efforts by outsiders,
such as alumni, to influence tenure decisions.

“In the face of considerable efforts by outside
groups over the past few years to vilify members
of the faculty and determine how controversial
issues are taught on campus, the administration
has failed to make unequivocally clear that such
interventions will not be tolerated,” the letter,
obtained yesterday by The New York Sun, reads.

RELATED: Text of the Faculty Group’s Letter

The professors, many of whom signed a petition
two years ago calling on Columbia to divest from
companies that sell arms and military hardware to
Israel, plan to present the criticisms tomorrow
at a meeting of the Arts and Sciences faculty.

While the administration at Columbia has clashed
in the past with professors in the Middle East
and Asian Languages and Cultures department, the
movement against Mr. Bollinger has flared up
again over his conduct in hosting President
Ahmadinejad of Iran on campus in September.

Mr. Bollinger’s harsh rebuke of the dictator, the
letter said, “sullied the reputation of the
University with its strident tone,” and “allied
the University with the Bush administration’s war
in Iraq.” The group accuses Mr. Bollinger of
taking “partisan political positions concerning
the politics of the Middle East.”

The letter also received support from faculty in
other departments, including History and
Architecture, who said they were reacting mainly
to Mr. Bollinger’s rebuke of Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“You don’t invite someone and then take him apart
in the introduction,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning
poet who teaches at Columbia, Mark Strand, said
yesterday. “I don’t understand it ethically, and
I don’t understand what it accomplished — that
was my justification for signing the letter.”

Some faculty members defending Mr. Bollinger said
they feared the signers were following in the
steps of the Arts and Sciences faculty at Harvard
University who last year forced their president,
Lawrence Summers, to resign by voting a lack of
confidence in him after he drew criticism for
comments about women’s aptitude in science.

The faculty who signed the letter are:

Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lila Abu-Lughod, Qais
Al-Awqati, Paul Anderer, Mark Anderson, Gil
Anidjar, Zainab Bahrani, Akeel Bilgrami, Richard
Billows, Elizabeth Blackmar, Partha Chatterjee,
Lewis Cole, Jonathan Cole, Elaine
Combs-Schilling, Susan Crane, Jonathan Crary,
Julie Crawford, Hamid Dabashi, Patricia Dailey,
Tom DiPrete, Brent Edwards, Eric Foner, Aaron
Fox, Katherine Franke, Victoria de Grazia, Page
Fortuna, Steven Gregory, William Harris, Andreas
Huyssen, Rashid Khalidi, Alice Kessler-Harris,
Marilyn Ivy, Brian Larkin, Lydia Liu, Sylvère
Lotringer, Mahmood Mamdani, Peter Marcuse,
Reinhold Martin, Mark Mazower, Mary McLeod,
Brinkley Messick, Rosalind Morris, Keith Moxey,
Frances Negron-Muntaner, Mae Ngai, Bob O’Meally,
Neni Panourgia, John Pemberton, Richard Peña,
Julie Peters, Pablo Piccato, Sheldon Pollock,
Elizabeth Povinelli, Wayne Proudfoot, Bruce
Robbins, David Rosner, George Saliba, James
Schamus, David Scott, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,
Mark Strand, Paul Strohm, Michael Taussig, Ezra
Tawil, Kendall Thomas, Nadia Urbinati, Marc van
de Mieroop, Karen van Dyck, Dorothea von Mücke,
Gauri Viswanathan, Gwendolyn Wright.

November 12, 2007 Edition > Section:
New York>

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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