Anna Schneider-Mayerson

(New York Sun, Feb. 25, 2003)

Brooklyn College history professor Robert David (KC) Johnson won his battle for tenure yesterday when City University's chancellor overrode a departmental verdict that Mr. Johnson didn't have enough "collegiality" for a lifetime appointment at the school.

"Although collegiality is a factor that may be considered in connection with promotion and tenure decisions, I did not find compelling and objective evidence of a major problem in that regard sufficient to trump a truly outstanding record of scholarship," CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein told the university's Board of Trustees at a meeting at CUNY headquarters on the Upper East Side.

Mr. Goldstein, who described his intervention in the Johnson affair as unusual, has been under pressure from students and faculty within the university to reverse the decision since it came down last year. Hundreds of students signed a petition in favor of Mr. Johnson, who received a PhD from Harvard University and has published four books.

Some of the country's top historians, including Alan Brinkley of Columbian and Ernest May of Harvard, signed a letter to Mr. Goldstein urging him to reconsider the denial.

In December, Brooklyn College president Christoph Kimmich reappointed Mr. Johnson to a one-year post, sidestepping the tenure issue.

Mr. Goldstein's decision was unanimously approved at a meeting of the board.

Mr. Johnson had been told that his alleged lack of collegiality stemmed from political positions he took against the practice of considering race and gender in hiring decisions and his protestation of a panel on terrorism that had no pro-American or pro-Israeli participants.

In a statement yesterday, he said he was "delighted" with the board's decision.

"My case should serve as a reminder of the importance of academic freedom, and the need for personnel decisions at colleges and universities to be made on the basis of academic credentials—scholarship, teaching, and service—rather than ideological conformity," he said.

"It's important to play nice with the other kids," said Trustee and Johnson supporter Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. "But it's not what defines how far you get."