"Dean’s statement concerning misinformation campaign around Jewish Studies at UC Irvine"

Dear Colleagues,

UC Irvine’s Department of History has become the object of a pressure campaign concerning its History 18A (Jewish Texts) course. A flood of messages, mostly automatically generated or copied, but a few individually crafted as violent personal threats, degrading insults and calls for punishment, have been received by the department, the school and the campus leadership. There has also been a series of slanderous online conversations that either omit or misrepresent key factual details.

All of these messages contain a significant amount of misinformation, whether deliberately or because of lack of familiarity with processes the university uses for hiring faculty and establishing curricula. Those who choose to amplify false and erroneous information deliberately will no doubt continue to do so; but as the leader responsible for the programs of the School of Humanities, including the History Department, the Center for Jewish Studies and the minor in Jewish Studies, I cannot leave such falsehoods unchallenged. 

Two new Senate tenure-track, permanent faculty were hired this year in the School of Humanities to teach and conduct research in Jewish Studies. One of these new Senate faculty members will be fully in History and the other is being appointed jointly in History and Comparative Literature. Having hired new, highly qualified and accomplished permanent faculty in this area, the History Department has reassessed its need to use scarce financial resources to staff the course with temporary faculty. The department has accordingly declined to renew the contract of the temporary faculty member who taught the History 18A course – ably and with much student appreciation – once a year for the last three years. 

The review and reconsideration of department need for temporary appointments is a normal process when new permanent Senate faculty take up instructional duties that have been previously taught by temporary faculty. Our programs are bound by the terms and procedures of a union contract in how and under what circumstances this can be done. But there is no question that Senate faculty have priority in the assignment of courses in our programs and curricula. Where instruction of a course may be taken up by Senate faculty, it is expected that temporary faculty would not be reappointed. 

History 18A was first taught in 2007. It has since been taught by five different instructors, including both permanent Senate faculty of the department and, when permanent Senate faculty were unavailable due to separation and/or sabbatical leave, Unit 18 faculty were temporarily hired. The course is offered on a periodic basis and may be taken as an independent course in History or as a required course in the Jewish Studies minor. It has been taught at various intervals, including every two or three years, as well as annually in five of the seventeen years it has been offered. It has been offered in different quarters as well: in fall, winter or spring quarter variably throughout the course’s history. Though it has had a common broad theme – “Jewish Cultures,” as it was earlier named, and “Jewish Texts,” as it is now called – the specific content and syllabi have varied with different instructors, as is typical of such thematically based courses. We expect that our new Senate faculty will also shape the course according to their discretion. The course will be taught this coming year in Winter or Spring 2025, and most likely every other year subsequently, as is typical for courses serving our minors. For a more comprehensive recounting of the facts surrounding the enhancement of Jewish Studies at UC Irvine, please see the recent Jewish Studies statement on the School of Humanities website. 

I return to the campaign of misinformation and pressure that has surrounded this course and the History Department’s routine decision to assign the course to a new permanent Senate faculty member in Jewish Studies. In the wake of this decision, we have been slandered and slurred. We have received degrading, threatening messages of hate and misogyny. We have had to hear the qualifications of our new faculty questioned and have received baseless messages, shared with the leadership of the campus up to the Chancellor and the UC Regents, claiming that our newly hired Senate faculty received their positions not because of their scholarly merit and accomplishment but because of their political views.

This is unacceptable and deeply reprehensible. I decry this attempt to negatively influence and derail the academic mission of the university.  


Tyrus Miller
Dean, UC Irvine School of Humanities
Distinguished Professor of Art History and English

Jewish Studies