Some 70 faculty members have signed and sent a letter to President Reinharz, asking him to “consider suspending any final decision about the fate of the Rose Art Museum, pending a full airing of possible alternatives by the Brandeis community.”

The letter comes as a welcom show of support from the faculty for more community involvement in decisions, and serves as a rebuke to the Administration for acting in such a secretive matter. 

Perhaps one thing that could be considered is the possibility of drawing from the endowment principle, which seems to me to be the best feasible fiscal alternative that would leave the University intact. I plan on talking more about this in a future post.

The full letter is below…

 

An open letter from the Faculty to Pres. Reinharz

February 4, 2009 

Dear President Reinharz,  

            We would like to ask you to consider suspending any final decision about the fate  of the Rose Art Museum, pending a full airing of possibl alternatives by the Brandeis  community. With the world’s eyes fixed on Brandeis, now is the time for all of us in the university to show our willingness to debate, to deliberate, to explore a range of financial and intellectual options. This process should take place in a timely manner, but without undue haste. The last two weeks have left many in the faculty feeling uninformed by an administration bent on taking speedy action. But the crisis of confidence that this episode has engendered may yet be transformed into a widespread support for our governing bodies, if all members of the Brandeis community are allowed to take part in a truly free discussion about what can be done, both for the Rose and for the tough financial choices that face the university. When transparent and accountable governance is circumvented anywhere in the university, we all suffer. When that breach of process results in adverse 

publicity for the university as a whole, as well as serious damage to the intellectual work undertaken by our colleagues in Fine Arts and their students, we all feel threatened. 

The university’s deserved reputation as a beacon for both social justice and intellectual integrity is at stake here. And speaking pragmatically, the events of the last week have shown that the Rose museum’s value to the university is not only measured in the auction price of pictures. Donor goodwill is a valuable and hard-to-recover asset, and the Rose’s potential dissolution may send the wrong  message about Brandeis to potential supporters everywhere. Because closing the Rose Museum was authorized but not mandated by the Board of Trustees,  we hope that you will reassure us that you plan to hold off on any final decision about the Rose at this juncture. We believe that the suspension of  any action concerning the Rose for a reasonable period—coupled with a resolve to make the university’s financial options open to informed analysis by engaged members of the Brandeis community—would go a long way to reassuring both the community and our well-wishers outside. 

Sincerely, 

Silvia Arrom (History) 
Susan Birren (Biology) 
Marc Brettler (NEJS) 
Mary Baine Campbell (English) 
Bulbul Chakrabarty (Physics) 
David Cunningham (Sociology) 
Steven Dowden (German, Russian, & Asian Languages and Literatures) 
Irving R. Epstein  (Chemistry ) 
Elizabeth Ferry (Anthropology) 
David Hackett Fischer (History) 
Seth Fraden (Physics) 
Richard Gaskins (American Studies) 
Michael T. Gilmore (English)  
Leslie Griffith (Biology) 
Karen Hansen (Sociology) 
Eric Hill (Theater Arts) 
Jane Kamensky (History) 
Don Katz (Psychology) 
Nina (Cornelia) Kammerer (Heller) 
Tom King (English) 
Sarah Lamb (Anthropology) 
Sue Lanser (English) 
Harry Mairson (Computer Science) 
James Mandrell (Women’s and Gender Studies) 
Catherine L. Mann (IBS and Economics) 
Eve Marder (Biology) 
Charles McClendon (Fine Arts) 
Robert Meyer (Physics) 
Robin Feuer Miller (German, Russian, & Asian Languages and Literatures) 
Paul Morrison (English) 
Leonard Muellner (Classical Studies) 
Richard Parmentier (Anthropology) 
Gregory A. Petsko (Biochemistry) 
John Plotz (English) 
Michael Randall (Romance Studies) 
Michael Rosbash (Biology) 
Fernando J. Rosenberg (Romance Studies) 
Daniel Ruberman (Mathematics) 
Ellen Schattschneider (Anthropology) 
Dawn Skorczewski (English) 
Nancy Scott (Fine Arts) 
Marion Smiley (Philosophy) 
Ramie Targoff (English) 
Gina Turrigiano (Biology) 
Jonathan Unglaub (Fine Arts) 
Cheryl Walker (Classical Studies) 
Aida Yuen Wong  (Fine Arts) 
Bernard Yack (Politics) 
William Flesch (English) 
Laura Quinney (English) 
Dimitry Kleinbock (Mathematics) 
Jim Haber (Biology) 
Melissa Stimmel (Legal Studies) 
Derek Isaacowitz (Psychology) 
Patricia Johnston (Classical Studies) 
Joyce Antler (American Studies) 
Sacha Nelson (Biology) 
Liuba Shrira (Computer Science) 
Richard Lansing (Romance Studies) 
David Engerman (History) 
Jeffrey Agar (Chemistry) 
Govind P. Sreenivasan (History) 
Jane Hale (Romance Studies) 
Gordon Feldman (Sociology) 
Thomas Doherty (Film Studies) 
John Wardle (Physics) 

2 comments on “Faculty ask Reinharz to hold off on Rose decision”

  1. Cynic Says:

    The key to this letter is its identification of a “crisis of confidence,” and its plea for a “suspension of any action concerning the Rose for a reasonable period—coupled with a resolve to make the university’s financial options open to informed analysis by engaged members of the Brandeis community.”

    I’m sure that some of the signatories are irrevocably opposed to closing the Rose, or would prefer spending down the endowment. But that’s not the position the letter takes. It’s almost entirely focused on image and process. Many members of the Brandeis community who suspect that shuttering the Rose and selling off the Mnuchin Collection are nevertheless distressed by the ham-handed way the situation has been handled. They’d like the University to open its books, be forthright about how it got into this mess and about just how dire the situation is, and thus rally support for the painful decision as being the least-disastrous option. So this letter cobbles together (at least) two distinct factions within the faculty: those opposed to closing the Rose, and those opposed to closing the Rose like this. And at least part of what concerns that latter group is that, when the Trustees start shutting down elements of the university without first consulting the faculty, they could be next. They want a better process, not necessarily a different outcome. They’re standing up for their prerogatives.

    I’d also note that seventy faculty signatures isn’t – bluntly – terribly impressive. It’s about 20% of the faculty. It matters that this many feel strongly about the issue, and it’s a shot across the bow of the administration. There are some particularly impressive and distinguished names on the list. But it’s also striking to look at the institutional players: I count the Chairs of Anthropology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, English, Fine Arts, GRALL, History, Physics, and Sociology. That many chairs can’t be a coincidence; I assume this letter was circulated among all the chairs. So it’s not too much of a leap to suggest that while the opposition of ten chairs is a problem for Krauss, the absence of the other fifteen is at least as significant.

  2. Victoria Says:

    Just to be picky: the English chair is not on the list of signatures. Though that doesn’t negate the fact that 10 of the signatures are English profs. 🙂 Department pride!

    What strikes me more about the signatures is that most of the professors–atleast to my knowledge–are full professors, some are associate professors, between both those groups, faculty with administrative positions. To be really candid: people who wouldn’t be afraid to speak their mind and wouldn’t be really in fear of losing their jobs. I don’t think we should expect most faculty to sign something like this; Brandeis has alot of assistant profs, and I know if *I* were an assistant prof I’d be hesitant to sign something like this.

    Of course, I could be over-estimating the looming reaper that is tenure.