An open letter to the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education
I just sent the following letter to the Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education. If you'd like to do something too, Leiter has the emails you need; and there's also a conversation for those interested over at New APPS.
March 9, 2011
Dear Regent Leavitt,
I am deeply worried, saddened, and upset by the news that UNLV will eliminate the Social Work, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies departments if Governor Sandoval’s Budget passes.
UNLV will be completely unable to attract good faculty in the future, when future job candidates learn that tenured faculty can lose their jobs. This puts UNLV at an enormous disadvantage when trying to hire good professors: the only people who will accept a job offer from UNLV will be those who cannot get a job anywhere else—and even those people will try to find another job elsewhere as soon as they can. Furthermore, many faculty currently at UNLV who are good enough to land a job offer elsewhere will be applying for jobs next year: ‘if it can happen to Social Work, Women’s Studies, or Philosophy, then it can happen to me.’ So saving a few dollars by destroying the reasonable expectation of tenure will harm the entire university’s ability to attract and retain good faculty members.
I was an assistant professor in the Philosophy Department at UNLV from the Fall of 2006 through the Spring of 2009. I had other job offers in 2006, but I declined them, because I was very impressed with the quality of the philosophy faculty. They are smart, they are good teachers, and they put enormous amounts of time into their work and their students. (For example, many department members would often come to the undergraduate philosophy club meetings if invited by the students, taking time out of their lives to spend more time with students, for nothing in return other than the satisfaction of being a good teacher.) UNLV was getting their money’s worth, and then some. Furthermore, in the last 5 years, the department began to be impressive on a national scale: they hired newly minted Ph.D.’s graduating from the very best departments in the world, managed to hire a senior scholar away from a top 10 program, and the department members’ articles began appearing in the most elite journals. It makes me sick that this slow, steady climb is simply going to be destroyed.
So, for the sake of the entire University’s ability to attract and retain faculty, and because UNLV has successfully built up an impressive faculty, please do not eliminate the Philosophy, Social Work, and Women’s Studies departments.