Following two divisive controversies, Hamilton College announced Friday that Nancy Rabinowitz had agreed to resign, effective immediately, from her position as director of the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture.
Rabinowitz, who teaches comparative literature at Hamilton, did not relinquish her faculty position.
The Kirkland Project was the unit at Hamilton that invited Ward Churchill to speak on campus this month. Hamilton called off the talk after he received death threats, but the college was widely criticized by politicians and others for inviting Churchill, whose comments on 9/11 infuriated many.
Just a month before the Churchill controversy, the Kirkland Project was in the middle of another controversy when it invited Susan Rosenberg to the campus as a short-term teacher. Rosenberg, at one time a leading activist against the Vietnam War, was indicted but never tried for a 1981 armored car robbery that left a guard and two police officers dead. She was sentenced for 58 years on charges of weapons possession, but President Clinton granted her clemency in 2001.
Amid criticism of her Hamilton appointment, Rosenberg withdrew from plans to teach a half-credit course on memoir writing.
Rabinowitz released a statement in which she said: "Hamilton College finds itself in the midst of a crisis that is deeply rooted in the institution's history and set against a backdrop of increasing political and cultural tension. Much of the resulting media attack has been directed personally at me as director of the Kirkland Project. This, in turn, has been destructive to the project and to the educational mission of the college, in particular to its desire to create a more diverse and welcoming environment for all students. In the interests of the college and its community, therefore, I am stepping down as director, effective immediately."
She added, "I am resigning under duress.... What the project needs now is someone more adept at the kind of political and media fight that the current climate requires. Therefore, it is in the interests of the mission of the project itself and for no other reason that I am yielding to requests that I resign."