University of Leeds, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies,
University of Leeds,
Leeds LS2 9JT

27th May 2010

Dear members of the Middlesex University Board of Governors,

We were appalled to hear of your recent decision to close the department of philosophy, a decision that looks from every quarter short-sighted, narrow-minded and ignorant of the major contribution the department’s scholars and students have made – and continue to make – to intellectual advancement in the fields of continental philosophy, critical theory, political philosophy, aesthetics, and art theory – an influence that has been felt throughout the arts and humanities in the UK and abroad. Their impact on intellectual culture and public debate has been immeasurable.s

We are now further appalled to hear of your suspension of staff and students at Middlesex University for their courageous and democratic efforts to reverse your disastrous decision. This is an outright attack on legitimate protest, and an attack on the very people who – in having committed themselves to Middlesex, and over many years – have built the respect for and reputation gained by your institution. It is this that you are now demolishing. Your actions, in our view, are bullying, unreasonable and utterly disproportionate. This occupation was a defence of the very principles of higher education, of quality teaching, of research, of critical thought, and of the values of active participation in public life. Staff and students who have been involved in the events, website and teach-in that were organised under the occupation should be nothing but proud of their efforts to defend exactly what a university should stand for and hold dear. They are an inspiration for what real education should be and what university life should represent. That they are now victimised by the very institution they built – their employment or student registration suspended, their livelihoods threatened – is beyond belief.

The management’s recent actions and failure to listen to the growing clamour of international voices defending the department of philosophy bring the name of Middlesex into utter disrepute. No longer will we be recommending our students to your institution. You compromise not just an institution’s name, but also the good work of all scholars under your employ.

We hope that as an individual member of the board you will use your voice to challenge the board’s decisions internally – and, if necessary, that you publically distance yourself from this reprehensible course of action. We hope that the suspensions of staff and students will be lifted without delay and that the decision to close the department be reversed.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Griselda Pollock
Dr Gail Day
Dr Eva Frojmovic
Dr Kerry Bristol
Prof. Catherine Karkov
Dr Barbara Engh
Dr Mark Westgarth
Dr Diane Morgan
Dr Joanne Crawford
Dr Marcel Swiboda
Prof. Vanalyne Green
Chris Taylor
Dr Eric Prenowitz
Dr Ashley Thompson
Dr Catherine Ferguson
Dr Valerie Mainz
Prof. Roger Palmer

School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

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