University Cuts Result In Sacking of Shalom Lappin

You will probably have seen the depressing news that Universities are to lose half a billion in funding.

Norm has the news of King’s College London’s decision to close Shalom Lappin’s department:

The Head of the School of Humanities, Jan Palmowski, summoned me to his office without warning yesterday evening to inform me that King’s has decided to “divest of computational linguistics”, and so my position would be redundant as of September. This is an incredible development. Since moving back to Philosophy from Computer Science in September 2005 I have been Director of Graduate Studies. I was responsible, together with David Papineau, for formulating the Department’s RAE 2008 submission. As you know, The Department was ranked third nationally in this research exercise. My monograph on intensional logic and my articles were a significant part of this submission. I was also a member of both the RAE 2001 and the RAE 2008 Linguistics Panels.

I have two major books in press now (with Wiley Blackwell), due to appear later this year. I have been invited to give a research course on one of these books, devoted to the issue of linguistic nativism and learning theory at the North American Summer School of Logic and Language in June (University of Indiana at Bloomington), and an invited plenary lecture on the book at the European Summer School of Logic and Language in August (University of Copenhagen). In the Philosophy Department I have been supervising students and giving seminars on issues in logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. I have also been teaching and convening an undergraduate intercalated course on Neuroscience and Mind for the Neuroscience Department at Guy’s Campus, and I have been organizing a proposal for an MSc Program in Cognitive Science across Philosophy, Computer Science, Neuroscience, and The Institute of Psychology. My research and teaching is, then, based in core areas of Philosophy, and it is highly interdisciplinary.

In May 2009 I was offered a Chair, with tenure, with cross appointment in the Computer Science Department and the Cognitive Science Program, at the Hebrew University. For family reasons I decided to remain at King’s. Before turning down this offer, I spoke to my Head of Department, David Papineau, on several occasions, informing him of the offer and asking him if I was secure at King’s, in light of the announced budget cuts. He informed me that as far as he was concerned, my position was safe. I also spoke to Jan Palmowski, inquiring about possible conditions for early retirement. When he indicated what these were likely to be, I told him that they did not meet my financial requirements, and I asked if either I or the Department were in danger of cuts. He said that we were not, although there would be a review of the School’s faculty, and any decisions on redundancy would be made on the basis of research productivity, teaching activity, and administrative service. On the strength of these assurances, I turned down the offer from the Hebrew University in July.

I now find myself threatened with redundancy six years before scheduled retirement, with totally inadequate pension provisions, while at the height of my research career. This is grossly unfair, and violates statements often made by the Principal and other members of the administration to the effect that excellence in research is King’s priority. This threat is also a serious miscarriage of justice, given my level of productivity, and the fact that I was allowed to give up a very attractive offer on the basis of assurances that have turned out to be without foundation.

I would appreciate your help and support in this matter.

Shalom has our support of course.

There is also a facebook group you can join, here.

There is also a protest letter here.

Further information here.