Lafer letter

TO: Vice-Chancellor of the University, Michael Driscoll,

I am a professor at the University of Oregon in the U.S.  I am also currently a Senior Advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor.

Over many years, Middlesex’s philosophy department has earned a well-deserved reputations as a world-class department.

Your attempts to eliminate the department appear to reflect an abandonment of the very fundamental principles that have underpinned academic life for centuries — a commitment to intellectual integrity that is not subordinated to financial goals.  It is difficult to see any rationale for closing this department other than a decision to treat the university not as a university but as a series of profit centers that must be held to the highest possible rate of return.  While every school obviously needs enough money to keep operating, this attitude applied to such an internationally renowned department is disgraceful.

Furthermore, your treatment of the students and faculty who engaged in a peaceful library sit-in to protest the treatment of the philosophy department, again, undermines the very values that universities are supposed to embody.  The cynicism of these reprisals — banning protesting faculty from any communication with students or staff — conveys a very simple message to students: the ideas we teach you in class about truth and justice and history — those aren’t serious; in the real world, it’s might makes right.

I urge you to reconsider your decision, both because it’s the right thing to do and because anything else will undermine the quality and reputation of your university.


Prof. Gordon Lafer

University of Oregon

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