Some faculty members said they fear that the departure of Appiah, who is Carswell professor of Afro-American studies and of philosophy, may increase the likelihood that DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. and Fletcher University Professor Cornel R. West ’74 will also leave for Princeton.
That possibility was widely discussed earlier this month after a rift between West and University President Lawrence H. Summers was reported in the national media.
Colleagues said they are particularly concerned that Appiah’s departure will tilt the scales in Gates’s decision—the two have been close friends and colleagues since they met as students at Cambridge University in 1973.
But Gates said in an interview with The Crimson yesterday that he will not make any decision about leaving Harvard until next fall.
“As of now I have no plans to relocate,” Gates said. “It would be very difficult to leave Harvard—I love it here.”
West could not be reached for comment.
Some said they think that although Appiah’s decision may have more of an impact on Gates, West is a better bet to leave.
“Unfortunately, it is very likely that Cornel will leave for Princeton,” wrote Geyser University Professor William Julius Wilson in an e-mail.
Wilson, who has also been rumored to have been considering a move, was also recruited by Gates to teach at Harvard and worked alongside West on Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential campaign.
Any decision from West will not likely be made until late spring, after West has fully recovered from surgery he underwent last week, said Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree.
“Professor West is resting comfortably and is focusing on his health right now and hasn’t made any decision—and to me that’s good news,” Ogletree said.
In an interview with The Crimson yesterday, Appiah said his departure had nothing to do with the highly publicized dispute between Summers and West.
“I’ve had nothing but kindness since I’ve come here—including the past six months,” Appiah said.
“My own meetings with Larry Summers have been extremely productive and he is interested in all sorts of things I think the University should do,” he said.
Appiah said the primary factor behind his decision to go to Princeton was his daily commute between Cambridge and New York City, where he lives with his partner.