03 October 2010

Pursue elsewhere? Yeah, right.

I am outraged.

See also here.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today the seven members of the French faculty at SUNY--Albany (all
tenured) were informed that by presidential decision, ostensibly for
budgetary reasons, the French program has been "deactivated" at all
levels (BA, MA, PhD), as have BA programs in Russian and Italian. The
only foreign language program unaffected is Spanish. The primary
criterion used in making the decision was undergrad majors-to-faculty
ratio. We were told that tenured faculty in French, Russian, and Italian
will be kept on long enough for our students to finish their
degrees--meaning three years at the outside. Senoir faculty are being
encouraged to take early retirement. The rest of us are being urged to
"pursue our careers elsewhere," as our Provost put it.

Needless to say, the decision is personally devastating to those of us
affected, but it is also symptomatic of the ongoing devaluation of
foreign-language and other humanities program in universities across the
United States. I'm writing to ask for your help in spreading the word
about this decision as widely as possible and in generating as much
negative media publicity as possible against SUNY--Albany and the SUNY
system in its entirety.

There is much background to add about how this decision was reached and
implemented, too much for me to explain fully here. Suffice it to say
that the disappearance of French, Italian, and Russian has resulted from
an almost complete lack of leadership at the Albany campus and in the
SUNY system. Our president, a former state pension fund manager, holds
an MBA as his highest degree, has never held a college or university
teaching position, and has never engaged in any kind of scholarship.

More disturbing still, due process was not followed in the
decision-making process. The affected programs were not consulted or
given the opportunity to propose money-saving reforms. Our Dean and
Provost simply hand-selected an advisory committee to rubber stamp the
president's decision. The legalities of the situation remain to be
discussed with our union, UUP, but in the meantime I welcome any advice
you may have.


Brett Bowles
Associate Professor of French Studies


Clarissa said...

This is absolutely horrible.

I hope the author of the letter doesn't mind if I repost it on my blog. As many people as possible need to hear about this.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Clarissa, I think it was meant as an open letter, for distribution. I got it from a list-serv to which I subscribe.