Andrew D. Hamilton
PO Box 208365
New Haven, CT 06520-8365
Dear Dr. Hamilton,
I am writing on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. We understand from recent press reports that Yale University’s History and Sociology departments had recently approved a decision to extend an offer of joint appointment to Dr. Juan Cole. According to these reports, the university’s Senior Appointments Committee subsequently voted to overturn that decision.
We are also aware that Dr. Cole’s candidacy for this position had attracted considerable hostile attention in some conservative media outlets as a result of critical positions Dr. Cole has articulated concerning policies of the governments of the United States and Israel. Our Committee is concerned that politically-motivated pressures outside and inside the university rather than professional norms may have influenced the Senior Appointments Committee’s decision to overrule the recommendation of the two departments.
We would welcome any clarification you can provide about measures the university has taken to ensure that such external and non-professional influences do not influence decisions on appointments. We would also appreciate knowing if the university plans to take any steps, such as an official independent inquiry, into the decision not to appoint Dr. Cole.
As you may know, Dr. Cole currently serves as president of the Middle East Studies Association. We are, however, an independent committee acting in our own right out of concern that political considerations may have played a role in the decision not to hire Dr. Cole. Dr. Cole, additionally, has formally recused himself from this matter inside MESA and the Committee on Academic Freedom.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this inquiry. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Committee on Academic Freedom