Pursue elsewhere? Yeah, right.

I am outraged.

See also here.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today the seven members of the French faculty at SUNY–Albany (all
tenured) were informed that by presidential decision, ostensibly for
budgetary reasons, the French program has been “deactivated” at all
levels (BA, MA, PhD), as have BA programs in Russian and Italian. The
only foreign language program unaffected is Spanish. The primary
criterion used in making the decision was undergrad majors-to-faculty
ratio. We were told that tenured faculty in French, Russian, and Italian
will be kept on long enough for our students to finish their
degrees–meaning three years at the outside. Senoir faculty are being
encouraged to take early retirement. The rest of us are being urged to
“pursue our careers elsewhere,” as our Provost put it.

Needless to say, the decision is personally devastating to those of us
affected, but it is also symptomatic of the ongoing devaluation of
foreign-language and other humanities program in universities across the
United States. I’m writing to ask for your help in spreading the word
about this decision as widely as possible and in generating as much
negative media publicity as possible against SUNY–Albany and the SUNY
system in its entirety.

There is much background to add about how this decision was reached and
implemented, too much for me to explain fully here. Suffice it to say
that the disappearance of French, Italian, and Russian has resulted from
an almost complete lack of leadership at the Albany campus and in the
SUNY system. Our president, a former state pension fund manager, holds
an MBA as his highest degree, has never held a college or university
teaching position, and has never engaged in any kind of scholarship.

More disturbing still, due process was not followed in the
decision-making process. The affected programs were not consulted or
given the opportunity to propose money-saving reforms. Our Dean and
Provost simply hand-selected an advisory committee to rubber stamp the
president’s decision. The legalities of the situation remain to be
discussed with our union, UUP, but in the meantime I welcome any advice
you may have.


Brett Bowles
Associate Professor of French Studies

Strange conversation

You will have gathered from the lack of posts that I’ve been swamped lately. Exploding Head Month started early this year. But this afternoon I was working in a coffeeshop, and while I was in line for coffee, the following exchange took place:

Man Probably Younger Than I Am: Hi.

Dame Eleanor: Hi.

MPYTIA: Your hair is really misleading.

DE: Why is that?

MPYTIA: Because you look so young.

DE: [Absolutely refusing to touch the question of apparent or actual age] I think so many women dye their hair that a lot of people don’t really know when hair starts to go grey.

At that point I got my coffee and went back to my table. And the conversation played over again in my head. Was MPYTIA saying . . . that I should dye my hair? That he was about to hit on me, until he realized that I’m probably a decade or more older than he is? That I am dressing too young for my age?

Should I have channeled Gloria Steinem and informed MPYTIA that this is what 40-whatever-I-am looks like?