Cornel West *80
Cornel West *80
Denise Applewhite/Office Of Communications

Cornel West *80, one of Princeton’s most prominent faculty members — and a major draw for students — is leaving the University.

West, a provocative figure known for his outspoken advocacy for liberal causes, will rejoin the faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he began his career in 1977.

“It’s a devastating loss for Princeton,” said Eddie S. Glaude Jr. *97, the head of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies, which West helped to create and build, drawing other well-known scholars. “We're losing a master teacher.”

West’s introductory African-American studies course has drawn up to 400 students. West, who is on sabbatical this year, has been in the news for his criticism of President Barack Obama and his arrests at recent protests.

Unlike his angry departure from Harvard in 2002, when he returned to Princeton after teaching here from 1988 to 1994, there is no ill will this time. President Tilghman said she hopes West will return often.