Wellesley College’s Freedom Project plans to issue an invitation to Xia Yeliang to be a visiting fellow, Thomas Cushman, the director of the project and a professor of sociology, announced on Thursday. More than 130 Wellesley faculty members have signed an open letter in support of Xia, a professor of economics at Peking University who was dismissed in October in what’s been widely viewed as retribution for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government. (Peking University objects to this characterization, and has said that Xia’s contract was not renewed because his teaching and research records were sub-par.)
In a statement, Wellesley confirmed that though an invitation has not yet been extended, the college is moving forward with the possible appointment of Xia as a visiting fellow. "While the circumstances of Professor Xia's contract non-renewal with Peking University and his academic record may be in dispute, his credentials as an advocate of academic freedom and human rights are solid," the statement says. "It is Xia's experience as a practitioner of dissent that fits well with the work of the Freedom Project." (This article has been updated from an earlier version to include Wellesley's statement.)
Wellesley faculty voted earlier this month to proceed with the college's institutional partnership with Peking despite the academic freedom concerns raised by Xia’s termination.