More than 200 Carnegie Mellon University faculty, staff and students have signed a letter asking the university to withdraw its selection of former Ambassador Richard Grenell as senior fellow, saying he has a “well-documented record of sexism and support for racist political movements.”
Grenell is a former ambassador to Germany and former acting director of National Intelligence. He was named senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Politics and Strategy earlier this month.
Kiron Skinner, director at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, defended Grenell’s selection in an undated
statement on the Carnegie Mellon website. She said the institute “is fully committed to intellectual diversity” and welcomes students and faculty with “a variety” of political views.
Signatories of the open letter to Carnegie Mellon president Farnam Jahanian say that Grenell has a “history of ties to extremist, xenophobic groups” and that his appointment “undermines the integrity of our efforts to support a diverse and inclusive university community.” They also fault the procedure of his selection, which they say was done without input from faculty, staff and students.
Skinner said she invited Grenell to be a fellow “in the spirit of intellectual freedom.” She said he is “generous and respectful of varying opinions” in his professional and personal life.
“As the nation’s first openly gay member of a president’s cabinet, a political conservative, a Christian, and a ten-year veteran of the State Department, Ambassador Grenell brings a unique perspective to the practice of US diplomacy and politics,” Skinner said.