For immediate release
January 4, 2002
Jenny Lawhorn,

Contact: NPR
Laura Gross,

Cornel West Discusses Harvard Controversy In Exclusive NPR Interview

Monday, January 7, 2002

WASHINGTON, DC-In an interview with new NPR® host Tavis Smiley, Harvard University Professor Dr. Cornel West addresses the controversy surrounding his role at the Ivy League university and his strained relationship with its president, Lawrence H. Summers. This is the first time West has spoken publicly about the situation at Harvard.

In the interview, West shares details about the private meeting he had with Summers last October, which West characterizes as an attack on his integrity and his "popular" versus "pure" academic work. "I have never been attacked and insulted in that particular way," says West. "It is a matter of respect."

West also discusses whether he and his colleagues will continue at Harvard, sharing his views on the role race plays in the academic controversy and how the actions of Harvard's president might affect the entire teaching profession.

During the interview, Smiley reads from Summers' recent remarks on Harvard's commitment to diversity and asks West to comment. "Any administrator…can mouth these words," says West, "but the question is, what is done on the ground?"

On the possibility of leaving Harvard for Princeton, West says, "It's not simply a sense of turning away from Harvard…its also a turning towards something that is positive, something that is visionary, something that is appreciative…" Later in the interview, West says, "In a deep sense I weep for Harvard, because Harvard has meant much to me."

West's interview will air on the inaugural edition of The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, a daily one-hour magazine that engages national radio audiences with new voices and fresh perspectives. A group of key public radio stations are airing the new show, which premieres on January 7. The program will be offered to all NPR member stations by the end of January. Audio of the interview will be available online at after 12:00 P.M. EST on January 7, 2002.

NPR, renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, serves a growing audience of more than 16 million Americans each week via more than 640 public radio stations. NPR Online at brings hourly newscasts, news features, commentaries and live events to Internet users through original online reports, audio streaming and other multimedia elements. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwide, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.