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May 22, 2017 1:42 pm

Newly-Appointed Dartmouth Dean Steps Down After Facing Barrage of Criticism Over BDS Ties

avatar by Rachel Frommer

N. Bruce Duthu. Photo: Dartmouth website.

A Dartmouth College dean with a history of support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel has withdrawn from his highly controversial appointment to a consequential administrative post.

N. Bruce Duthu alerted his colleagues on Monday via a Google document of his decision over the weekend to decline his nomination to dean of faculty, which was to take effect on July 1. He has also  stepped down from the position he filled over the past year as an associate dean.

Duthu wrote:

As many of you know, the news of my appointment, at least in some circles, remains a source of concern and contention. Whether warranted or not, this matter has been and will likely continue to be a significant distraction for me professionally and a source of considerable pain and frustration for me personally. It also has the great potential to be damaging to the college in the long term, given the higher visibility and engagement with external audiences that come with the dean’s position. Under these circumstances, I do not believe I can serve effectively as your Dean. 

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He will stay on as a faculty member in the Native American studies department.

Duthu’s resignation came days after members of Dartmouth’s Native American community released a letter stating their support for his appointment. They asserted that the criticisms of Duthu were the result of “institutionalized devaluation” and silencing of Native Americans, as well as the “extreme views” of “a small group of conservative community members” who “demand that the administration accommodate their interpretation of BDS.”

Following outrage over his promotion, Duthu initially made a statement distancing himself from his support for BDS, which had included his signing and alleged co-writing of a statement supporting an academic boycott of Israel for the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in 2013.

Susannah Heschel, the chair of Dartmouth’s Jewish studies program, told The Algemeiner on Monday, “Most of my faculty colleagues at Dartmouth are very saddened by the news [of Duthu’s resignation].”

“I was very disappointed that so many people attacked Bruce rather than talking to him,” Heschel said, adding that she maintained anti-Zionists should be educated, not berated.

“I imagine the attacks against Bruce must have been very disheartening to him, and to the extent that those attacks came from the Jewish community and the Zionist community, I regret it very much and feel it was an error,” she said.

Sandor Farkas, the outgoing president of Dartmouth Students for Israel, said he was concerned that this contentious incident would result in “repercussions” for the pro-Israel community from left-wing students and faculty who supported Duthu.

“I would not be surprised if we saw some actual antisemitism [on campus],” he said. “I am also worried that the college administration will pick a progressive radical in order to appease the inevitable leftist anger at this development.”

Farkas added that he “feel[s] empathy for Professor Duthu,” whom he described as “neither an antisemite nor virulently anti-Israel.”

“He made a mistake — one that I unequivocally condemn — and I do believe he has changed his thinking,” said Farkas. “The hate that some directed towards him was absolutely despicable, and I do not believe that this model of reactionary pro-Israel activism is morally or even practically sustainable.”

Dartmouth’s president and provost have sent an email to the Dartmouth community expressing their “great regret” over Duthu’s decision.

Read Duthu’s full message and the administrative response via campus news site Dartblog, which broke the story of his resignation.

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