Joseph A. Massad: Palestinian-American Scholar at Columbia U. Gets 2nd Chance at Tenure





The news appeared in the blogosphere late last fall: Columbia University had reportedly denied the tenure bid of Joseph A. Massad, a Palestinian-American scholar at the university.

"Raise your cup," Paula Stern, a Jewish American who blogs from Israel, wrote last November. "Joseph Massad will not remain at Columbia University."

But six months later, Mr. Massad—an associate professor of Arab politics in Columbia's embattled department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture—is still a professor at the university. His third book, Desiring Arabs (University of Chicago Press), just won the prestigious Lionel Trilling Book Award, given by a committee of undergraduates at the university. And Columbia has made no announcement about his tenure status.

So what happened?

Administrators at Columbia won't say, citing the privacy and confidentiality of tenure cases. Prominent professors in the department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture—or Mealac, as it is known—and other departments would not speak publicly about the process. Mr. Massad, too, declined to comment.

But other faculty members, both inside Columbia and out, who have knowledge of the tenure case say Alan Brinkley, the university's provost, did indeed turn down the professor's tenure bid last fall.

The provost's decision followed what professors describe as a narrow vote in favor of Mr. Massad by an ad hoc committee of five scholars who judged his tenure file. When the provost subsequently rejected the bid, professors say, the decision prompted an angry letter from senior faculty members at Columbia who support Mr. Massad. They apparently have persuaded the provost to reconsider the case and give the professor the unusual opportunity of a second chance at tenure at Columbia.



comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


art eckstein - 5/31/2008

I'll say this about Massad:

1. During the commissionof inquiry about his anti-semitic remarks that Columbia was forced to hold because of public pressure, he denied remembering screaming at an israeli student. Now, if I had screamed at a student I would remember it! Conclusion: Massad was simply lying to the commission, but using the sleazy lawyer argument of "I don't remember it!" Such a person does not deserve tenure.

2. Massad publishing an important article, a summary of "Desiring Arabs", which was so homophobic that it ascribes efforts to protect gay men in Muslim countries to "the Gay International" and its imperialist plot against Muslim culture.

Subscribe to our mailing list