Ex-NYTer Isabel Wilkerson abandons class mid-semester

Isabel Wilkerson

Last December the Boston University student newspaper reported that Pulitzer-winner and former New York Times reporter Isabel Wilkerson told her newswriting class midsemester that she wouldn’t be teaching for several weeks “due to a scheduling conflict.” She never returned. A staff editorial noted:

Clearly, Wilkerson’s notoriety in the world of academic literature usurps her ability to contribute in a more concrete manner to the Journalism Department of COM. Many professors at this school are well-known, well-respected scholars in their respective fields, but they all make time to interact with their students and teach their subject, and if Wilkerson cannot manage this balance, then she is simply not doing her job.

Inside Higher Ed reports today that Wilkerson has taken an unpaid leave of absence and won’t be teaching in 2012. “I think the success of her book [“The Warmth of Other Suns”] overwhelmed everyone,” BU College of Communications dean Tom Fiedler tells the publication. “The demands for her to speak carried on more into 2011 than expected, and unfortunately we did not prepare for that.”

The Inside High Ed story goes on:

Fiedler took exception to some of the online comments [about Wilkerson on the student paper’s website], including one that suggested that Wilkerson earned more than $200,000 annually. “I can tell you that figure is wildly inflated. It is unfair for this number to sit out there. It makes her a target,” he said.

* Wilkerson takes leave from BU after missing classes
* Dec. 12, 2011: College of Communications rofessor abandons class to promote book
* Dec. 11, 2011: Student newspaper scolds prof for “cutting class”
* Wilkerson’s bio on the BU College of Communication website