Open Letter to the Dean and VCs of Middlesex University

Vice-Chancellor Michael Driscoll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Waqar Ahmad, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Margaret House,

Early today I sent an email to Professor Esche concerning the recent shameful and misguided decision to shut down the department of philosophy and CREMP. I’ve included that text below, but wanted to write to you as well to express my concern. It is worrying that you appear to have entrusted the administration of your university to someone who would push for the dissolution of your most successful department in terms of research, while claiming that Middlesex is a place of research excellence. You are shutting down one of the foremost centres for contemporary philosophy, which is the only reason I had ever heard of it when I studied in the US, and by closing it down Middlesex, as an institution, will only be presenting itself as a place for mediocrity, unworthy of the title “university”. I urge you to reconsider your decision and support your most successful researchers.

Professor Esche,

I’m writing concerning the recent decision to shut down the Department of Philosophy and the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy. The decision is very troubling, as it seems clear the department and CREMP is the most successful research aspect of Middlesex. What possible rationale can you possibly have, as a university of higher learning, for shutting down your most successful department? It seems clear any crude appeal to the financial crisis is simply a cover, as the department is on target for being one of the largest MA programmes in the UK, which is a testament to the tiny staff.

This will very negatively affect the rest of philosophy in the UK as CREMP, both through the research of its staff and the events it hosts, is one of the few places in the Anglophone world where research in European philosophy is valued and, more importantly, extended. I emigrated to the UK four years to begin studies in philosophy and religion at the University of Nottingham and have participated in at least one seminar or conference event at Middlesex per year, and there was a good relationship between the department here, ranked one of the highest in the UK in Theology and Religious Studies, and CREMP. It is, quite simply, the most vibrant research community for European philosophy in the UK.

If you prize mediocrity, then please by all means cut the program, but if you value excellence then I urge you to reconsider your decision. As it stands, you have made Middlesex University look like it does not respect its own current students and, further, that it does not want a highly successful and important research centre.
Anthony Paul Smith
Adjunct Lecturer and PhD Student
Theology & Religious Studies
University of Nottingham

Research Fellow
Institute for Nature and Culture
DePaul University