I write this letter with fond memories of interactions with the wonderful students at Syracuse University. While on your campus, I found the students to be both thoughtful and welcoming: perfect for a university campus.
I write to lend my full support for Dr. Boyce Watkins and his tenure application at Syracuse University. Dr. Watkins has raised the profile of Syracuse University as he informs our national community on money matters as well as matters of the conscience. And at this particular time in our country's history, financial literacy must be viewed as an important life skill. Dr. Boyce is doing for America what he does in Syracuse University classrooms every class meeting period. So why would Syracuse University not want such a prolific and publicly appealing face as its representative?
Ultimately, Dr. Boyce must be judged by what he does in the classroom and in publications. Does Dr. Boyce elevate Syracuse University and does he elevate his field? Dr. Boyce demonstrates "academics in action" and makes scholarship relevant. Why should Dr. Boyce's scholarship and activism (which elevates Syracuse University) not be rewarded by a grant of tenure from Syracuse University?
As a former Member of Congress and Green Party candidate for President of the United States, I realize that political complexities can play a role in the decision to grant tenure to faculty on most American campuses. As I have just concluded successful organizing against war that brought together four 2008 Presidential candidates, I am reminded of the clean break that Dr. King had to make with his friends of the civil rights movement when he decided to speak out against the Vietnam War. But Dr. King intoned that he had been fighting segregation too long to segregate his moral concerns. Your decision with respect to Dr. Boyce is both political and moral. And so, I will end with one very famous Dr. King quote and hope that the leadership of Syracuse University will do in this decision what is right:
"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right."