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Home » Clarion » 2011 » June 2011 » Viewpoint: Distinguished Professors on Kushner Degree

Viewpoint: Distinguished Professors on Kushner Degree

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Below is a letter sent by 75 CUNY Distinguished Professors to the Board of Trustees, which called on the Trustees to reverse their action blocking John Jay College from awarding an an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner. The Board’s Executive Committee did so on May 9.

As Distinguished Professors of the City University of New York, the most democratic university in the most democratic city in the country, we are anguished and disheartened by what seems to be the decision of the Board of Trustees to deny an Honorary Degree to Tony Kushner, the foremost playwright of our generation. Based on a distorted and perverse presentation of Kushner’s alleged views on Israel, the Board voted to table John Jay College’s recommendation to honor him. Kushner’s views on Israel are not the issue. The reputation and traditions of CUNY are. We abhor this attempt to silence controversy, to limit the range of acceptable ideas – when the very purpose of a university is to foster conversation and debate.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “the opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference.” We cannot be silent. Therefore, we appeal to the Board in the interest of our great university to reconsider its action and to affirm John Jay’s decision to honor Tony Kushner.


Andre Aciman, Comparative Literature, Graduate Center
Ervand Abrahamian, History, Baruch College
Richard Alba, Sociology, Graduate Center
Meena Alexander, English, Graduate Center
Eric Alterman, English, Brooklyn College
Stanley Aronowitz, Sociology and Urban Education, Graduate Center
Laird Bergad, Latin American & Puerto Rican Studies, Lehman College
Marshall Berman, Political Science, CCNY
Emily Braun, Art History, Hunter College
John Brenkman, English, Baruch College
Edwin Burrows, History, Brooklyn College
Marvin Carlson, Theater and Comparative Literature, Graduate Center
Billy Collins, English, Lehman College
Blanche Wiesen Cook, History, John Jay College
Vincent Crapanzano, Comp. Literature & Anthropology, Grad Center
Joseph Dauben, History of Science, Lehman College
Michael Devitt, Philosophy, Graduate Center
Morris Dickstein, English and Theater, Graduate Center
Martin Duberman, History (emeritus), Lehman College
Linnea Ehri, Educational Psychology
Cynthia Epstein, Sociology, Graduate Center
Stuart Ewen, Film and Media Studies, Hunter College
Marie Filbin, Biology, Hunter College
Michelle Fine, Psychology and Urban Education, Graduate Center
Jack Flam, Art and Art History (emeritus), Brooklyn College
Nancy Foner, Sociology, Hunter College
Nicholas Freudenberg, Public Health, Hunter College
Fred Gardaphe, English and Italian American Studies, Queens College
Daniel Gerould, Comparative Literature and Theater, Graduate Center
David Greetham, English, Graduate Center
Michael Grossman, Economics, Graduate Center
Kimiko Hahn, English, Creative Writing and Literary Translation, Queens College
Jeffrey M. Halperin, Psychology, Queens College
David Harvey, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History, Graduate Center
Samuel Heilman, Sociology, Queens College
Virginia Held, Philosophy, Graduate School
Saul Kassin, Psychology, John Jay College
Wayne Koestenbaum, English, Graduate Center
Adam Koranyi, Mathematics, Graduate Center
Richard Kramer, Music, Graduate Center
Isaías Lerner, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures, Grad Center
Jane Marcus, English, CCNY
Gerald Markowitz, History, John Jay College
Uday Mehta, Political Science, Graduate Center
Judith Milhous, English and Theater, Graduate Center
Nancy K. Miller, Comparative Literature, Graduate Center
John Mollenkopf, Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center
David Nasaw, History, Graduate Center
Elizabeth Nunez, English, Hunter College
James Oakes, History, Graduate Center
Steven Penrod, Psychology, John Jay College
Rosalind Petchesky, Political Science, Hunter College
Frances Fox Piven, Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center
Graham Priest, Philosophy, Graduate Center
Robert Reid-Pharr, English, Graduate Center
David Reynolds, English, Lehman College
Carl Riskin, Economics, Queens College
Ruthann Robson, CUNY School of Law
David Rosner, History (emeritus), Baruch College
Morris Rossabi, History, Queens College
David Savran, Theater and English, Graduate Center
Sarah Schulman, English, College of Staten Island
Anthony Sclafani, Psychology, Brooklyn College
Thomas Sleigh, English, Hunter College
Neil Smith, Anthropology and Geography, Graduate Center
Michael Sorkin, Architecture, CCNY
Stephen Steinberg, Urban Studies, Queens College
Katherine Verdery, Anthropology, Graduate Center
Mike Wallace, History, John Jay College
Shelly Weinbaum, Engineering, CCNY
Mac Wellman, Theater, Brooklyn College
Catherine Widom, Forensic Psychology, John Jay College
Joseph Wittreich, English, Graduate Center
Jock Young, Criminal Justice, Graduate Center


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