May 1, 2010
Dear Vice-Chancellor Driscoll,
I was distressed to hear about the pending closure of philosophy at Middlesex University, including the liquidation of The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy. As the Director of the Program in Experimental Critical Theory at UCLA, I have long been extremely impressed with the work being done at the Centre, which clearly is one of the most important places for the study of contemporary philosophy in the world. This work is of vital interest not only to philosophers, but to scholars and students in a wide range of fields in the humanities and social sciences, including all the modern and classical language and literature programs, political science, sociology, anthropology, film, art, art history, digital media and design, and numerous other fields. The UCLA Program in Experimental Critical Theory regards the Middlesex CRMEP as a most distinguished partner, one that we turn to frequently for guidance in new and emerging fields of critical thought. I have sent students to the Centre in Middlesex to study with Peter Hallward, Peter Osborne, Eric Alliez, and the other internationally known staff of the CRMEP, and it is clear to me that they come back transformed by the experience, with a level of intellectual sophistication that puts them in the forefront of advanced thinking in these areas.
I understand that these are financially very difficult times for Middlesex, as they are for the University of California, including my campus, UCLA. I have struggled to maintain our program despite dwindling resources, and I understand that drastic steps are often necessary for the sake of the survival of the university itself. But my belief is that, in the triage that such times calls for, it is most important to preserve those parts of the university that have been most outstanding, what we call our “areas of excellence,” since the damage done to the entire university is severe and irreversible, both practically and in terms of our international reputation, when those areas are eliminated or even severely harmed by cuts. I have seen the serious and irrecuperable harm done to other campuses of the University of California by the destruction of such “centerpiece” programs – as the CRMEP certainly is in Middlesex, from our point of view in the United States – and I urge you to do whatever you can to save philosophy and the CRMEP. The loss of the Middlesex programs would be a terrible blow, with repercussions felt all over the world, including the US, South America, and Asia – not to mention Europe itself. It would be a shame to see the vultures circling over the CRMEP, hoping to pick up what Middlesex has thrown away.
Indeed, if the programs in philosophy at Middlesex are saved, I would like to propose a new alliance between the Program in Experimental Critical Theory at UCLA and the CRMEP at Middlesex. I have ideas for ways to connect our two programs in ways that I believe would be mutually beneficial, and without any added costs for either university. My hope is that we can not only survive these difficult times, but find ways to prosper and grow.
I hope you will do everything you can to save philosophy and the CRMEP at Middlesex.
Associate Professor of English
and Comparative Literature,
Director, Program in Experimental Critical Theory