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Neil Gross Plans To Leave Harvard

Soc prof will join University of British Columbia faculty later this year

After serving four years as an assistant professor of sociology at Harvard, Neil Gross has accepted a tenure offer from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he will start teaching this fall.

Gross said that he could not turn down the position that the Canadian university offered him.

“UBC was able to offer me tenure now, along with a competitive financial package, the chance to teach in an up-and-coming sociology department, and a great life for me and my family in a beautiful, dynamic, international city,” he wrote in an e-mail.

At Harvard, Gross said that he would not even be considered for tenure for another three years.

In March of last year, sociology professor Jason A. Kaufman ’93, who is currently Head Tutor of the sociology department, was denied tenure.

At the time, a departmental e-mail blamed then-University President Derek C. Bok for rejecting Kaufman.

Kaufman will be leaving Harvard at the end of this academic year.

Kaufman told The Crimson in March 2007 that “Harvard is unusual in the degree to which official departmental recommendations can be overturned by the University authorities.”

Kaufman did not return requests for comment.

No junior faculty member in the department has been given tenure in over a decade.

However, sociology professor Robert J. Sampson, the chair of the department, said that the department remains upbeat about future tenure prospects for junior faculty.

“We are optimistic given the kinds of hires we have been able to make,” he said. “We have a very, very strong group of assistant professors.”

Gross said that a return to Harvard was not out of the realm of possibility.

“It’s a fantastic community of scholars and scientists, and I loved the intellectual inquisitiveness of the place,” he wrote. “The students have been great.”

“I’d love to come back to Harvard some day as a tenured professor, but passing up such a good offer the mere chance at tenure three years from now didn’t make sense,” he added.
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