Professor resigns directorship over Berkeley’s refusal to invite non-woke lecturer
The head of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center will step down after his colleagues refused to invite a scientist who opposes the use of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in hiring and admissions decisions.
When MIT canceled Dr. Dorian Abbot's planned lecture, Princeton's James Madison Program stepped up to host the lecture instead.
Dr. David Romps, director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC), announced his resignation Monday in apparent protest of his colleagues’ refusal to hear from a scientist who was recently canceled for having differing political views.
I am resigning as Director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC) @BerkeleyAtmo. To reduce the odds of being mischaracterized, I want to explain my decision here.
— David Romps (@romps) October 18, 2021
Though Romps does not mention the other scientist, Dorian Abbot, an associate professor at the University of Chicago, who was slated to deliver the prestigious Carlson Lecture at MIT tomorrow but was disinvited by the school.
In the October 18 thread, Romps tweeted that he tried to invite Abbot after his planned lecture at MIT was canceled due to the scientist's views on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Romps tweeted, “Last month, the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences canceled a science lecture because of the invited scientist’s political views.” Romps says he proposed inviting the scientist, tweeting that “extending the invitation now” would “reaffirm that BASC is a purely scientific organization, not a political one.”
Campus Reform spoke with Abbot, who praised Romps' embrace of viewpoint diversity.
"Professor Romps is an extremely brave proponent of academic freedom. There are very few faculty willing to openly defend academic freedom right now, let alone resign an important directorship in support of it," Abbot said.
He added, "If we had a few more leaders like Professor Romps, we wouldn't be having a crisis of academic freedom in our universities."
Romps notes in this week's thread that the BASC had invited Abbot to visit in 2014, which the Chicago scholar accepted.
The proposal to invite him now, however, was met with stiff opposition.
Romps tweeted, “In the ensuing discussion among the BASC faculty, it became unclear to me whether we could invite that scientist ever again, let alone now.”
The reaction from his faculty colleagues prompted Romps to reconsider his role at BASC.
“It was never my intention to lead an organization that is political or even ambiguously so,” he tweeted.
When MIT backed down, Princeton University stepped up and announced that it will host Abbot’s lecture virtually tomorrow, the same day the MIT event was scheduled to take place.
The online event, Climate and the Potential for Life on Other Planets, has attracted far more interest than its organizers initially anticipated.
Robert P. George, director of the James Madison Program at Princeton, tweeted on October 10th that “thousands” of people had signed up to attend, and the very next day he tweeted that, for a second time, he had to raise the cap on how many attendees can watch the lecture via Zoom.
We have once more been forced by the sheer number of registrants for Dorian Abbot's lecture on Oct. 21st, 4:30 East Coast time to increase the quota for Zoom participants. If you tried to register but were unable to do so, you may register now. https://t.co/4e7YXcZITd https://t.co/mU9UwFhH6x
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) October 12, 2021
Debby Parker, a program manager at the James Madison Program at Princeton University, told Campus Reform that more than 7,700 people had signed up to attend the virtual event as of October 15.
"I would certainly say the publicity around the controversy with MIT has generated interest in the lecture as well as interest in the James Madison Program at Princeton," Parker said.
Speaking to his cancelation from MIT, Abbot told Campus Reform that he was surprised the Massachusetts school disinvited him.
"Ten years ago I would have never dreamed that something like that could happen in America," Abbot said.
Romps is not the only academic taking a stand in support of Abbot.
Among the registered attendees is a climate research scientist who works in higher education. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the scientist told Campus Reform that she was motivated to sign up for the lecture to take a stand against cancel culture.
“The biggest reason I will be attending Dr. Abbot’s lecture is in support of viewpoint diversity that is a must to produce the best scientific research for the benefit of society,” she said.
Abbot said he is pleased by the support his lecture has received, despite the controversy.
"I am very happy that so many people are interested in attending my lecture at Princeton," he said. "I hope they will enjoy some fun science!"
Romps did not respond to request for comment in time for publication. This piece will be updated with any response.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito