I understand and appreciate that concern about Nadia Abu El-Haj's tenure case is motivated by our alumnae's great respect and love for Barnard. You desire to see us maintain — indeed, continue to advance — our academic distinction. For this very reason, I hope you will realize that it is in the interests of this nation's greatest institutions of higher learning that they follow the processes inherent in their governance. Let me just review for you how that process will go forward in this as in all cases:
Once a teacher-scholar is appointed to the Barnard faculty, she becomes subject to the rights and responsibilities specified in our Code of Academic Freedom and Tenure. In the case of a tenure review, we solicit outside letters from distinguished scholars in the candidate's field. The reviewers are not chosen by the candidate and she does not know who they are.
In this case, and with specific reference to Facts on the Ground, these reviewers will certainly include archaeologists with appropriate expertise and broad comparative perspectives. While it is a legitimate cultural anthropological enterprise to show how archaeological research can be used for political and ideological purposes — something that is common not merely to Israelis and Palestinians, but is a pervasive pattern in many parts of the world — it is, needless to say, of the essence that the archaeological enterprise itself be addressed responsibly and knowledgeably. That is something to be determined by those in a professional position to do so. The Faculty Committee on Appointments, Tenure, and Promotion, along with the Provost, gives long and careful consideration to such outside evaluations, among other kinds of information, when they make a recommendation to me about whether a faculty member should be tenured. The decision then is mine.
Please understand that I greatly appreciate your feedback. I always want to respond to any concerns our alumnae may have. At the same time, I will share with you my concern about communications and letter-writing campaigns orchestrated by people who are not as familiar with Barnard as you are, and who may not be in the best position to judge the matter at hand.
I most certainly value your thoughts on this important issue. I ask only for your understanding and patience as we adhere to the principles that have served us so well throughout our history.