Letter from Distinguished Professors to Board

Below is a the text of a letter sent by CUNY Distinguished Professors to the CUNY Board of Trustees calling for it to reverse its May 2nd decision, which in effect denied John Jay College authorization to grant Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree.

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As Distinguished Professors of the City University of New York, the most democratic university in the most democratic city in the country, we are anguished and disheartened by what seems to be the decision of the Board of Trustees to deny an Honorary Degree to Tony Kushner, the foremost playwright of our generation. Based on a distorted and perverse presentation of Kushner’s alleged views on Israel, the Board voted to table John Jay College’s recommendation to honor him. Kushner’s views on Israel are not the issue. The reputation and traditions of CUNY are. We abhor this attempt to silence controversy, to limit the range of acceptable ideas – when the very purpose of a university is to foster conversation and debate.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "the opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference." We cannot be silent. Therefore, we appeal to the Board in the interest of our great university to reconsider its action and to affirm John Jay’s decision to honor Tony Kushner."

Andre Aciman, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature, Graduate Center

Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor, History, Baruch College.

Richard Alba, Distinguished Professor, Sociology, Graduate Center

Meena Alexander, Distinguished Professor, English, Graduate Center

Eric Alterman, Distinguished Professor, English, Brooklyn College

Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor, Sociology and Urban Education, Graduate Center

Laird Bergad, Distinguished Professor, Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, Lehman College

Marshall Berman, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, CCNY

Emily Braun, Distinguished Professor, Art History, Hunter College

John Brenkman, Distinguished Professor, English, Baruch College

Edwin Burrows, Distinguished Professor, History, Brooklyn College

Marvin Carlson, Distinguished Professor, Theater and Comparative Literature, Graduate Center

Billy Collins, Distinguished Professor, English, Lehman College

Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor, History, John Jay College

Vincent Crapanzano Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature and Anthropology, Graduate Center

Joseph Dauben, Distinguished Professor, History of Science, Lehman College

Michael Devitt, Distinguished Professor, Philosophy, Graduate Center

Morris Dickstein, Distinguished Professor, English and Theater, Graduate Center

Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, History, Lehman College

Linnea Ehri, Distinguished Professor, Educational Psychology

Cynthia Epstein, Distinguished Professor, Sociology, Graduate Center

Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor, Film and Media Studies, Hunter College

Marie Filbin, Distinguished Professor, Biology, Hunter College

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor, Psychology and Urban Education, Graduate Center

Jack Flam, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Art and Art History, Brooklyn College

Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor, Sociology, Hunter College

Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor, Public Health, Hunter College

Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor, English and Italian American Studies, Queens College

Daniel Gerould, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature and Theater, Graduate Center

David Greetham, Distinguished Professor, English, Graduate Center

Michael Grossman, Distinguished Professor, Economics, Graduate Center

Kimiko Hahn, Distinguished Professor, English, Creative Writing & Literary Translation, Queens College,

Jeffrey M. Halperin, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, Queens College

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History, Graduate Center

Samuel Heilman, Distinguished Professor, Sociology, Queens College

Virginia Held, Distinguished Professor, Philosophy, Graduate School

Saul Kassin, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, John Jay College

Wayne Koestenbaum, Distinguished Professor, English, Graduate Center

Adam Koranyi, Distinguished Professor, Mathematics, Graduate Center

Richard Kramer Distinguished Professor, Music, Graduate Center

Isaías Lerner, Distinguished Professor, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, Graduate Center

Jane Marcus, Distinguished Professor, English, CCNY

Gerald Markowitz, Distinguished Professor, History, John Jay College

Uday Mehta, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, Graduate Center

Judith Milhous, Distinguished Professor, English and Theater, Graduate Center

Nancy K. Miller, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature, Graduate Center

John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor, Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center

David Nasaw, Distinguished Professor, History, Graduate Center

Elizabeth Nunez, Distinguished Professor, English, Hunter College

James Oakes, Distinguished Professor, History, Graduate Center

Steven Penrod, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, John Jay College

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, Hunter College

Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor, Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center

Graham Priest, Distinguished Professor, Philosophy, Graduate Center

Robert Reid-Pharr, Distinguished Professor, English, Graduate Center

David Reynolds, Distinguished Professor, English, Lehman College

Carl Riskin, Distinguished Professor, Economics, Queens College

Ruthann Robson, Distinguished Professor, CUNY School of Law

David Rosner, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Baruch College

Morris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor, History, Queens College

David Savran, Distinguished Professor, Theater and English, Graduate Center

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor, English, College of Staten Island

Anthony Sclafani, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, Brooklyn College

Thomas Sleigh, Distinguished Professor, English, Hunter College

Neil Smith, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Geography, Graduate Center

Michael Sorkin, Distinguished Professor, Architecture, CCNY

Stephen Steinberg, Distinguished Professor, Urban Studies, Queens College

Katherine Verdery, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology, Graduate Center

Mike Wallace, Distinguished Professor, History, John Jay College

Shelly Weinbaum, Distinguished Professor, Engineering, CCNY

Mac Wellman, Distinguished Professor, Theater, Brooklyn College

Catherine Widom, Distinguished Professor, Forensic Psychology, John Jay College

Joseph Wittreich, Distinguished Professor, English, Graduate Center

Jock Young, Distinguished Professor, Criminal Justice, Graduate Center