Friday, June 19, 2020

Resignation

President Stanley asked me this afternoon for my resignation. I do not agree with his decision, as serious issues of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Inquiry are at stake. I fear for the reputation of Michigan State University.

However, as I serve at the pleasure of the President, I have agreed to resign. I look forward to rejoining the ranks of the faculty here.

It has been a great honor working with colleagues in the administration at MSU through some rather tumultuous times.

To my team in SVPRI, we can be proud of what we accomplished for this university in the last 8 years. It is a much better university than the one I joined in 2012.

I want to thank all the individuals who signed our petition and who submitted letters of support. The fight to defend Academic Freedom on campus is only beginning.

Sincerely,
Stephen Hsu

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Update June 27: Wall Street Journal on the Twitter Mob Attack and MSU Moral Panic.

I wrote this quick summary for the many journalists that have contacted me over the weekend.

1. This started as a twitter mob attack, with very serious claims: that I am a Racist, Sexist, Eugenicist, etc.

2. These claims are false. Among the public letters, by professors at many different universities, there is extensive analysis of the GEU tweet thread showing that the claims are not only misleading, but false.

https://sites.google.com/view/petition-letter-stephen-hsu/home

3. The GEU alleged that I am a racist because I interviewed MSU Psychology professor Joe Cesario, who studies police shootings. But Cesario's work (along with similar work by others, such as Roland Fryer at Harvard) is essential to understanding deadly force and how to improve policing.

4. Over just a few days, 1700+ individuals from around the world signed the support petition, including noted figures such as: Steven Pinker (Harvard), Jeffrey Flier (former dean, Harvard Medical School), Sam Altman (OpenAI CEO), Robert Plomin (leading behavior geneticist, King's College London), J. Michael Bailey (leading behavior geneticist, Northwestern University), Scott Aaronson (leading theoretical computer scientist), Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT professor and AI expert). Among the signatories are hundreds of professors from MSU and around the world, and an even larger number of PhD degree holders.

5. Regarding my work as Vice President for Research, the numbers speak for themselves. MSU went from roughly $500M in annual research expenditures to about $700M during my tenure. We have often been ranked #1 in the Big Ten for research growth. I participated in the recruitment of numerous prominent female and minority professors, in fields like Precision Medicine, Genomics, Chemistry, and many others. Until this Twitter attack there has been not even a single allegation (over 8 years) of bias or discrimination on my part in faculty promotion and tenure or recruitment. The number of individual cases I have been involved in over 8 years is well over 1000.

6. Many professors and non-academics who supported me were afraid to sign our petition -- they did not want to be subject to mob attack. We received many communications expressing this sentiment.

7. The victory of the twitter mob will likely have a chilling effect on academic freedom on campus.


See this article by Eugene Volokh (UCLA law professor) for Reason magazine.

This Lansing State Journal article is probably the most balanced local media account I have seen so far.


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Background: 1 2

For inspiration, see the comments here.

Read the brilliant letters here.

I am receiving emails like this:
Subject: People support you!!!!!!

Just thought you should know there are many people including young University students in Michigan who agree with and support you! God bless you, never give up and never back down! If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask I would be happy to help!

Good evening Steve,

I'm so sorry to hear about your resignation. It seems like mob rule has won. Why not just replace a university president with a twitter poll? 
I'm glad to see you have had so much support on the petition.

I was very sorry to hear what happened. I hope you and yours are alright. Don't let the bastards get you down, keep up the good work.

And do let me know if ever in Singapore, we can grab a beer, I know a couple fans of yours here too.

I am deeply saddened to read that you're being forced to resign. I can't make sense of the injustice, capriciousness, and cowardice that forces you out. I hope you know from all the letters and signatures that a great many people support you, myself certainly included! I hope you and your family are keeping your spirits up. Perhaps there will be some silver lining to this -- freed from administrative work, more time and energy for physics and genomics? ...

I am really very sorry for what you have had to deal with, and you finding yourself having to resign. This is total bullshit. You are a great scientist and great guy. I hope this does not dull your inspiration and creativity and desire to discover. You have done much for MSU, and this move does not instill confidence in MSU's ability to be a scientific institution of longevity.

I am so sorry this happened. I can't believe we are stepping into a universe where a twitter mob decides who is the director of research at a major institution. Where is the US I immigrated to?!

I hope the mob ends here and you get some consolation from having extra time to focus on research or anything else.

Thanks again for standing up to it and for all your important contributions to human knowledge over the years, as well for the many insights that I've gotten from infoproc. I sure hope this episode doesn't mean less blogging.

It seems the mob has the mandate of heaven for now. I know from history this will ultimately prove unsustainable. But I know, too, we potentially have far further to fall...

...You have chosen an endeavor worthy of your gifts. You have achieved great things and will continue to do so. Your critics' sophisms will read to future people like the babblings of a dull child. They are not even worthy of your ire.

I don't need to tell you the amount of misery your work has the potential to help eliminate, the amount of productivity it will unlock, the beautiful science and literature that our extending grasp will reach - but perhaps you could use a cheerful reminder!

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