"At the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, a rare academic event is
taking place: The school is attempting to revoke tenure from an endowed
professor. Rarer still is the reason. Cases of professors losing tenure are
often due to sexual or financial misconduct, but Amy Wax is facing sanction for
racist and sexist statements made publicly and privately.
Wax, a lawyer and neurologist who started her career at the solicitor general’s
office under Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton, has become something of
a standard-bearer for the right’s war on wokeness — and a confounding case
study in the pitched arguments over academic freedom, tenure, and higher
She started making national headlines in 2017, when, in a column that now seems
mild by standards she would later set, she and a co-author bemoaned the
breakdown of “bourgeois culture.” Their claim that “all cultures are not equal”
in reference to “inner-city blacks” and “some Hispanic immigrants” along with
“some working-class whites” sparked a flurry of open letters, responses, and
condemnation. But the controversy died down fairly quickly.
Less so with the next case, when comments Wax also made in 2017 were
resurfaced, in which she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student
graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half.
I can think of one or two students who scored in the top half of my required
first-year course.” This apparently violated Penn’s policies on the
confidentiality of student grades, and Ted Ruger, the dean of Penn Law,
stripped Wax of her mandatory first-year course. (Ruger also stated her claims
were false.) Ruger pointedly endorsed Wax’s academic freedom and explicitly
stated the punishment was for breach of student confidentiality."
Via Frederick Wilson II.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics