[Humanist] 22.675 a matter of concern

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Apr 8 10:20:55 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 675.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 08 Apr 2009 07:04:01 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: a matter of concern

Dear colleagues,

I forward, below, a note from a colleague at the University of Oregon 
about the fate of the very fine Wired Humanities Project, which has done 
wonderful work for many years. This note asks those who know of the 
Project, especially collaborators, fellow travellers and visitors to its 
offices in Eugene, to add to a log of comments that will be forwarded to 
the VP for Research there. Please do that if you can.

In the face of radically tightening budgets many institutions are 
behaving quite badly as deficit panic sets in. Even wealthy institutions 
(for whom a decline of the interest on huge endowments constitutes their 
crisis) are acting thus. Of course no one external to Oregon can argue 
the details, but what we can argue are the principles, the most 
significant of which is the fundamental purpose of an institution of 
higher education. From a financial point of view, I would suppose, 
culture is a hole in the ground into which money disappears without 
yielding anything that accountants can account with. So when a cultural 
institution tries to run itself as a business, it fails. It also fails 
because those in it seldom, it seems, have any idea of what businesses 
are actually like. They seem incapable of understanding the idea of 
investment -- indeed, less capable than a family running a corner shop. 
Even very bright people, and some who aren't so bright, turn into idiots. 
I am tempted to recommend that we ask our neighbours who run the
corner shops to take over and show our supposed betters how it is done.

Of course you cannot say any of that. But what you can do is to write 
eloquently about what educational institutions are for. We need 
reminding, it seems. If you are needing one or more capable humanities
computing people you can hire them away from the University of
Oregon while it is still in its muddle. Write to me directly if that is the
case, and I will play matchmaker.

O tempora, o mores!


> *From: *"Robert Haskett" <rhaskett at uoregon.edu 
> *Date: *April 5, 2009 2:12:25 PM PDT
> *>
> Dear colleagues,
> I am writing to alert you to a situation at the University of Oregon 
> that threatens the integrity, and perhaps the survival, of the Wired 
> Humanities Project. At risk are not only WHP’s digital Mesoamerican 
> projects, such as the Mapas Project (close study of indigenous 
> pictorial manuscripts; http://mapas.uoregon.edu/), the Virtual 
> Mesoamerican Archive finding aid (http://vma.uoregon.edu/), and the 
> online Nahuatl Vocabulary (http://whp.uoregon.edu/NahVocab/), but WHP 
> was just beginning to clone and adapt these projects for use in 
> studies about medieval Europe and indigenous cultures of the U.S., 
> among others.  Despite WHP’s success at winning external grants (three 
> significant NEH and NSF grants worth more than $700,000 since 2006), 
> its sponsoring unit is slashing WHP’s budget, personnel, and asking 
> that it radically alter course.  Yes, these are hard times and there 
> will be cuts everywhere, but these cuts are drastic, debilitating, and 
> seemingly punitive. They come at a time when the campus should be 
> rejoicing and celebrating WHP’s successes and trying to find ways to 
> nurture it.  If you are willing to take a moment to speak to the 
> significance of WHP as a unit worthy of protecting, any positive 
> experiences you have had collaborating with WHP, or comment on the 
> ability of its experienced leaders and its staff to continue to take 
> WHP in the right direction, your comments would be greatly 
> appreciated. It is my goal to get these comments to the Vice President 
> for Research, who may be able to reverse or ameliorate the cuts. Here 
> is the link: 
> http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Yfayu7axnjRf5AZ23wrUnA_3d_3d
> Thank you so much for considering this.
> Bob

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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