Last week, students received an email from Professor Gregory (yes, really) in which he told us that “we are now in a much stronger position and [he looks] forward to working with colleagues to ensure [we] all have the best possible experience.” Though many of us were tempted to immediately hit reply and say how those feelings were certainly not mutual, we think everyone managed to step away from the mailbox and calm down. However since then, students have started to pen considered responses to the Pro-Vice Chancellor, pointing out the huge problems with his version of events post-Arts Portfolio Review. A PG student from the department of Theology and Religious Studies, Alan Darley, wrote this particularly brilliant reply:
Dear Professor Gregory,
Thank you for your email communication. I do not, however, accept the justification for these cuts, nor the fait accompli means by which we have been informed.
How will the loss of world-class scholars in their fields possibly progress the stated goal of being ‘relevant to student needs’? Such language sounds Orwellian! I have not met any student who believes that these cuts serve their interest in any way whatsoever.
It is argued that departments have been saved by these cuts. But I do not accept that in a wealthy university like Nottingham’s, that there was any crisis in the first place, to make these cuts inevitable. But there is now; as a loss of world class scholars will clearly devastate student recruitment for both undergraduate and higher level degrees, leading to a manufactured loss of ‘viability’ in the future. So even on the business leaders’ own crass economic criteria, these decisions are self-defeating.
It is indeed ominous that Manchester subsumed discreet departments into a single School of Arts, Languages and Cultures and that this has already been partly reproduced by the destructive restructuring of the languages and cultural studies in Nottingham. The writing is on the wall for Theology and other discreet humanities subjects.
If wisdom, as Thomas Aquinas observed, is related to final causes (Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, chapter 1), then the university has forgotten about wisdom. It has forgotten its telos, replacing it with market utilitarianism.
Voluntary redundancies are indeed preferable to compulsory ones (which have not been altogether avoided), but we all know that ‘voluntary’ does not necessarily entail that staff involved wanted to lose their jobs, only that they faced the Hobson’s choice of leaving with or without some compensation.
I also note that ‘Professor Jeremy Gregory’ now appears as a member of faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. Shouldn’t someone who played a key role in decisions of redundancy and of their communication have also declared a conflict of interest?
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