29 April 2010
Dear Michael Driscoll,
It was great shock and dismay that I learned of Middlesex’s decision to close its Philosophy program. This is not just one more unfortunate decision in a time of cutbacks and austerity measures, but a travesty for the future of philosophy.
I understand that the program is well ranked according to the standards of research and publication that serve as criteria within the UK, but I am really not well suited to address those issues. Thus, I will leave those points to others who can address them better. However, as a philosophy professor who teaches and publishes on contemporary continental philosophy, I can say that the philosophy program at Middlesex practically serves as the gold standard for research, writing, and teaching in philosophy. This is true not only of the individual faculty, who stand out individually in terms of their publications, but of the program as whole, whose conferences and colloquia are often discussed and distributed internationally (through digital recordings and various websites).
As someone who advises students who are considering graduate work in philosophy, I can also attest to the fact that many students in the US consider Middlesex to be the preeminent place to pursue graduate work in philosophy.
I understand that these are tough times financially, that universities internationally are under a great deal of pressure, but universities are supposed to look at something beyond the bottom line, at the quality of scholarship and, quite simply, the future of knowledge production. By any such criteria the decision to close the philosophy department is a horrible decision and should be reversed immediately.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Southern Maine
Portland, Maine 04104-9300