The following things become painfully clear from the letter I cite in its entirety at the end of this post:
1. The SUNY University system, which used to be famous for the high quality of its education and research, is now officially dead. If you've been trying to convince yourself that New York State is not the same as Southern Mississippi, think twice. It is now exactly the same in terms of a methodic destruction of higher education in both these states.
2. It wasn't for nothing that we've been reading all these articles in the New York Times and Co about the need to abolish tenure. Those articles marked a beginning of an official campaign to destroy scholarship in the US. Religious fanatics that came to power in this country 10 years ago hate secular education. Now they have proceeded to destroy the university, which is a place where their ignorant superstitions are ridiculed and where young people are taught to think for themselves.
3. A corporate takeover of the system of American higher education has now been completed. Uneducated crooks have made their way into college administration. They share the desire that drives the religious fanatics to stamp out every last vestige of intelligence and knowledge in their country. In their opinion, the great unwashed masses should serve their purpose by working themselves to death without complaining about their horrible work conditions, consume more overpriced junk, get into debt, and be extremely grateful to be allowed to lead this beautiful existence.
4. With the imminent death of the overwhelming majority of language programs in this country, the US will find itself even more isolated from other cultures. Americans already feel like pariahs who are hated by people from other countries for the atricities the American government keeps perpetrating abroad. Now, Americans will not be able to talk to foreigners and find out that, in spite of all the propaganda that Americans are brainwashed with daily, their work conditions are amongst the worst and their lifestyles are the saddest in the developed world.
While these changes have been taking place, we, the academics, have been doing nothing. We have been sitting there quietly, agreeing to fulfill our administrators' every whim, kissing our Deans' and Presidents' asses, and hoping that at least our own positions would not be cut just yet.
Hasn't the time finally arrived for us to break our pathetic and terrified silence and start doing something? It happened to SUNY today and it will happen to you tomorrow.
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.
Associate Professor of French Studies
I found this shocking letter at a great blog you can find here.