Marc Ellis (Photo: Baylor University)
Mondoweiss contributor Marc Ellis is under threat of losing his job at Baylor University under pressure from new university president Kenn Starr (yes, that Kenn Starr). Cornel West and Rosemary Ruether have started a petition on Change.org to support him:
Kenn Starr former Clinton White House nemesis and President of Baylor University, to dismiss dissident Jewish voice Dr. Marc Ellis.
For more than three decades the prophetic voice of Marc Ellis has influenced generations of academics and activists. His dissident voice in the realm of contemporary Jewish identity and his theology of solidarity with Palestinians has been encouraged by numerous scholar-activists including Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Desmond Tutu and the two of us, Rosemary Ruether and Cornel West.
Unfortunately this voice is now being silenced at Baylor University where Marc has served with distinction for almost fifteen years as University Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. With the approval of Kenneth Starr, President of Baylor University, Marc Ellis is under internal investigation in what looks more and more like a persecution to silence a Jewish voice of dissent. In short, Baylor is re-writing its rules to dismiss Marc Ellis from the faculty.
We, the undersigned, request President Starr to honor Dr. Ellis’ academic freedom and stop all hostility toward him, including any attempt at dismissal. Join us signing this petition.
The petition site also includes the following update:
Marc Ellis was brought to Baylor in 1998 and all previous presidents supported his dissident voice. After Ken Starr (nemesis of Clinton in the White House) became president in 2010 the attacks started. During the last year Baylor lawyers were instructed to communicate with many of Marc’s colleagues, past students and staff. The objective was to request all of them to report all “abuse of authority.” Most of us explained to the lawyers that was a lost cause because Marc has been an exemplar colleague, professor and mentor.
But starting this Fall he was separated from his classes, his center closed and a hearing scheduled to take place some time in this academic year. As far as we know the accusations are about abuse of authority but we are not aware of the details because they are part of the internal legal process. Obviously it is about something else: Marc’s dissident voice. We wil inform all of you as soon as we know more information.
Some signatories to the petition have included comments with their signature. Israeli academic Ilan Pappe signed the petition saying:
Dr Ellis is a unique voice of moral courage, professional acumen and educational inspiration. To fire such a person with such qualities and qualifications is a suicidal action for any academic institution. I am signing this to save Baylor from itself.
Activist and author Anna Baltzer simply said:
As a Jew, an American, and a human being, I stand with Marc Ellis.