Cornel West, African-American Studies/Religion professor and one of our many celebrity academics, recently announced that he will be leaving his Princeton post in 2012 to teach Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, the school where he first began his career in academia.
For his time at Princeton, West will be remembered for more than just his commitment to paideia (which I learned is not a Spanish rice dish), his multiple political arrests, and his theological bromance with fellow professor Robbie George.
Oh, and that time his cartoon self roundhouse kicked some R. Kelly supporter in the Boondocks.
Since he began teaching at Princeton in 2001, West’s radical liberal politics have made him a controversial figure. A smattering of editorials and always well-phrased comments in the Prince since his arrival highlight the various opinions on West: “Princeton’s foremost hire” to “clownish entertainer,” “hero” to “charlatan,” and “exemplary human being” to “media whore.” My crowd of friends isn’t a big fan of West either, and as one friend once put it: “Why is he in academics at all? Why does he matter?”
I’ll be honest. Despite his platitudes, gangster proclivities, and propensity for showmanship, I believe Professor West matters.